A plea for the hospital expansion

October 21, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Re: “Headwaters to award contract for expansion next month”

Headwaters Health Care Centre announced last Thursday that they have reached an exciting milestone in their expansion and redevelopment Project, meaning construction will being shortly…….

Some years ago, my late mother-in-law Maude Small was a resident in the old Dufferin Oaks facility in Shelburne, not far from where she had been born on the Back Line of Melancthon Township and to which she and her husband, Ed Small returned, both in their eighties, to build a home just off Greenwood Street.

At that same time, my maternal uncle was in a nursing home at Bayview and Cummer in the city of Toronto.

The difference in care between a small town facility and the city was incomparable. The nursing staff at the Oaks knew Maude, who had taught many of their grandparents in a one room school house just outside of Shelburne.

The lack of city-tension and anonymity, which my uncle was experiencing in the city, compared to the smaller town Dufferin Oaks was very noticeable.

As a visitor to the smaller-town Headwaters Hospital over the twenty-eight years we have lived here, I have found the care to be friendly, efficient and more personal than that which I had experienced in the city and so I read with interest all that the expansion would encompass….chemotherapy and infusion services, minor procedures and biopsies, orthopaedics and patient education. “These expansion and renovation proj- ects will help us better serve the health care needs of our growing communities for gen- erations to come” said Ann Ford, Joint VP, Facilities & Redevelopment.

Yet nowhere did I read anything in the expansion about including support services for mental illness.

As it is now, anyone suffering from a mental health crisis must be seen in the same emergency department as physically ill patients.

The exposure to the behaviour of a mentally ill patient in crisis can be a frightening experience for a physically ill patient.

As well, mentally ill patients place addi- tional stress on the nursing staff and on the physicians who are basically unequipped to deal with a mental health patient in crisis nor do they have the facilities to do so. Sometimes, the police are required to stand outside the door of a small enclosed glassed-in office in the present emergency department until these patients can be transferred to another facility, Homewood, Penetang or Brampton. What is needed at Headwaters to better serve all the community’s health care needs in the future, both physical and mental, is a separate entrance into the hospital for those in a mental health crisis.

What is needed are more trained staff to deal with those patients and consulting rooms separate and apart from those suffering a physical illness. Consideration for both mental and physical illness should go hand-in-hand in this new expansion and it appears it is not.

When is Headwaters going to wake up to the fact that the body as a whole can break down and the mind is part of the physical body only the illnesses it exhib- its are still stigmatized and excluded from the inclusiveness of whole body care.

Please consider allowing a small portion of this expansion to be turned over to the care of mentally ill patients and allow them the dignity of not being exposed to other patients in the hospital by creating a separate entrance into a small mental health emergency section of this new hospital expansion.

Sandra Small Proudfoot
Mono, Ontario

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