Celebrating 10 Years of Mental Health Care at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital

Published On: January 30, 2024

St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) is proud to announce the 10th Anniversary of mental health care at STEGH, marking a decade of commitment to excellence and innovation, and a significant impact in mental health services.

Since bringing inpatient and outpatient mental health services to STEGH in 2014, the Mental Health Department has evolved into a pillar of support for those needing mental health services in Elgin County. In 2018, construction of the North Tower was completed, which houses a purpose-built Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health unit featuring a recreational therapy room, communal dining area, and large outdoor courtyard. The Unit was planned with the specific needs of patients and their families in mind. Since that time, numerous milestones have been achieved.

Highlights include:

  • Created a specialized Memory Clinic
  • Implemented a variety of strategies that significantly reduced counselling waitlists
  • Adopted the OCEAN eReferral to improve the patient experience and reduce inefficiencies
  • Built an additional Quiet Room and upgraded the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, both increasing patient safety and providing more comfort for those who need a higher level of care
  • Partnered with Canadian Mental Health Association (Thames Valley) and added an Addictions Consultant on the Inpatient Unit
  • Partnered with the St. Thomas Department of Social Services to embed a Social Worker on the Inpatient Unit
  • Expanded the team to meet the increasing needs of the community
  • Created the Elgin Geriatric Services partnership with centralized intake for easy access to all geriatric community resources in Elgin County
  • Developed numerous safety measures to mitigate risks
  • Facilitated specialized training for hospital staff re: working with geriatric patients and those with dementia

“Looking back over the years, it’s clear that each of us has had a hand in shaping this program,” says Dr. Giuseppe Guaiana, Chief of Psychiatry at STEGH. “We’ve worked together through challenges, learning, and growing as a team. While we’re not flawless, our strength lies in our ability to adapt and evolve. Despite facing hurdles such as drug dependency, an increasing prevalence of toxic drugs, and COVID-19, our dedication to our patients and our mission of bettering lives has remained resolute.”

The future is promising for Mental Health services at STEGH. This year, the team will be rolling out Inpatient and Outpatient electronic documentation for all staff and physicians. This innovation will increase patient safety, enhance documentation, improve communication between internal teams and those at the participating hospitals, and will speed up the transfer of information. Residents in St. Thomas and Elgin County can also look forward to more mental health support and information on the STEGH website coming this spring.

“As we look back on the journey we’ve traveled over the past 10 years, I am filled with pride and admiration for the resilience and determination that defines the mental health program at STEGH,” says Karen Davies, President and CEO. “I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has played a role in our success and I look forward to continued growth and success in the future.”