Sioux Lookout hospital renovating emergency department

The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre is renovating its emergency department to increase patient and staff safety.

The hospital is building four safe rooms, described as safe secure spaces to better care for patients presenting with acute mental health conditions.

The hospital said ongoing renovations won’t affect services, with the emergency department remaining open 24/7.

The hospital said before the renovations, patients were housed in the emergency department while they awaited transfer to an inpatient mental health facility. The upgrades will help support patients who are at high risk of self-injury or injury to employees or physicians.

The hospital said on average the emergency department sees 11 mental health and addictions related cases daily. Since 2019, the hospital has seen over 2,000 mental health and self-harm cases annually.

Over that time, the percentage of mental health and self-harm cases in the emergency department has risen from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, hospital officials said.

“The creation of the additional secure spaces within the emergency department will enable the hospital staff to maintain a safer environment, enabling time for de-escalation, in both acute mental health and addictions situations, "said acting president and CEO, Dean Osmond in a media release.

"The safe rooms will be designed to ensure patients cannot physically harm themselves, and they will allow for observation of patients from outside the room in a no-harm approach to staff. Patient and staff safety is paramount to maintain a good system of care.”

The hospital said it is expecting to receive nearly $500,000 of funding from the Ministry of Health towards the total renovation costs, estimated at about $650,000. The renovations are expected to be completed by mid-May.

“Through expanding our emergency department to have more purpose-built mental health rooms, we will be able to more effectively provide care to individuals requiring acute mental health services in a setting that prioritizes their dignity and safety,” said chief of mental health and addictions, Dr. Justin Bell, in the release.

“This is one of many planned investments into our hospital’s mental health and addictions infrastructure that we will see implemented over the coming years.”

Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source