A new facility at Peace Arch Hospital is currently accommodating patients transferred from Riverview Hospital.
Oceanside, a 24-bed acute mental-health facility for seniors on the third floor of the hospital’s Weatherby Pavilion, is part of the Riverview Redevelopment Project, in which mental-health patients are being moved closer to their communities and families throughout B.C.’s five regional health authorities.
“The idea is moving from a large institutional model to a more community-based model,” said Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg, who toured Oceanside with Fraser Health officials and media last week.
“The intent is to move patients closer to peer groups and the community.”
According to Fraser Health, the lock-down unit will provide short-term specialized care and stabilization for seniors who may suffer from psychoses, mood disorders, complex dementia and other issues including drug and alcohol addiction.
The provincial government contributed $1 million of the facility’s $3.6-million cost, which was reallocated from Riverview funding.
Program co-ordinator Tannis Knutson said during the Dec. 9 tour that the unit, which has a staff of 37 – most reassigned from Riverview – is already fully occupied.
“There are around nine people on the waiting list who may be in acute-care beds in the hospital, but some of the people (in Oceanside) can be moving out and are only waiting for home-help assessment,” she said.
The average stay for patients will be three to six months, she said, and the emphasis is on stabilizing and rehabilitating them so they can quickly move on to residential and community care, where appropriate.
As patients transferred from Riverview move on, the program will be available to others from across the Fraser Health region, including White Rock and South Surrey.
In addition to patient rooms, the facility also provides consultation rooms and doctors’ offices, Knutson said.
In answer to a question from Hogg about controlling aggressive behaviours among patients, Knutson said the facility also has a secure room.
“But so far we have never used it,” she said, noting that most of the patients are receiving ongoing medication.
Although Oceanside is primarily for patients 65 and older, it may include younger patients dealing with mental problems and early-onset dementia, Knutson said, noting it could also eventually care for voluntary patients.
She said the facility provides much easier access for family and others to see patients than in a more institutional setting.
“The majority of these patients have people who come in quite regularly to see them.”