May 21, 2024

Quebec is hoping to expand on a new model of care for patients in the emergency room experiencing a mental health crisis.

The model has been in place at Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal for several months, and on Monday, Health and Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant announced a plan to expand the measures to other hospitals.

A “brief intervention team” will now care for patients in crisis who need to be stabilized.

The measure, said Carmant, will free up beds for more severe psychiatric cases.

“They can have 48 to 72 hours in a unit of intensive short intervention, so you can avoid hospitalization,” he said.

The goal is to make hospitalization a last resort.

All patients leaving the hospital receive follow-up care in the community to ensure no one falls through the cracks.

Those who need it can have access to a measure called “psychiatric home hospitalization,” where the patient will be visited at their home by a nurse, a psychiatrist, or social worker up to three times a day for six to eight weeks.

“It can prevent long hospitalization and can help the team as well observe what’s happening at the house of the patients. And it leads to a better interaction between family and the treating team,” explained Carmant.

Quebec Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant (Christinne Muschi / The Canadian Press)

The pilot project started at in January, and Notre-Dame Hospital said about 90 per cent of those receiving home care did not return to the ER.

The care people receive is also more targeted, explained Dr. Cedric Andres, chief of psychiatry at the Notre-Dame Hospital.

“We are treating the right patient at the right moment, at the right place. This is the difference. So the quality of the care is vastly increased,” he said.

Advocates in Quebec have often criticized a lack of mental health resources and long wait times.

Notre-Dame recruited about 10 employees for its brief intervention team and another 40 for its home hospitalization team.

Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal (CTV News)

Carmant said he’s optimistic other hospitals will be able to do the same.

“Well, those are innovative initiatives which lead to recruitment. People are excited about these new programs. And the team here did an unbelievable team and unbelievable work and being able to recruit, without decreasing services elsewhere,” he said.

Carmant said he hopes to eventually expand programs like these to hospitals throughout the province.

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