Mental Health and Substance Use Wellness Centre

Comfort. Calming. Therapeutic. Those are among the aims of the new Mental Health and Substance Use Wellness Centre, which is part of the first phase of Royal Columbian Hospital’s unprecedented redevelopment. The 75-bed facility has been under construction for the last three years, and the vision for the new centre has been developed over many years. It’s now ready to start providing inpatient and outpatient care, as well as educational and research opportunities.

Inpatient care

The look and feel of the new centre was inspired by the nearby Fraser River. Design features include lots of windows and natural light, views of the river, open spaces, wood finishings, and nature and First Nations motifs. The goal has always been to create an environment where patients will feel safe, respected and supported.

“Right from the beginning, we realized the physical space itself has to be therapeutic,” says Dr. Anson Koo, Program Medical Director and Regional Department Head of Fraser Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use Program. “We incorporated innovative and leading design principles and ideas from around North America and internationally.”

As a regional centre serving the entire health authority, the facility will include 45 inpatient beds for acute mental health care, a 10-bed Psychiatric High Acuity Unit, and Fraser Health’s first Older Adult Mental Health Unit with 20 beds.

Every unit will have a variety of spaces including group therapy, and consult therapy rooms. New features include exercise rooms, quiet lounges, comfort rooms for sensory therapy, and outdoor patios.

Outpatient care

A number of new and expanded mental health outpatient services will be offered on the main floor.

“Outpatient services are a cornerstone of mental health treatment,” says Dr. Koo. “We want to prevent people from needing admission to hospital by providing timely and high-quality mental health care in an outpatient setting.”

These outpatient services include:

• A Psychiatric Consultation Clinic to support patients dealing with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.
• An expanded Reproductive Psychiatry Clinic for mental health concerns related to pregnancy and the post-partum.
• An Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic for youth diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD or other mental health issues.
• An Psychiatric Older Adult Clinic for seniors with mental health challenges.
• A new Addiction Medicine and Substance Use Clinic for people needing assessment, support and treatment for substance use problems.
• A Group Therapy Clinic to provide support and education in a group setting for patients with depression or anxiety.
• A Neuropsychology Clinic for people needing specialized cognitive testing and assessment.
Live video virtual health capabilities in the new building will also help transform care. In the future, psychiatrists and therapists will be able to do video consults with patients staying at a community site, such as a residential care home, or with a community-based mental health team to discuss discharge plans or on-going care.

FROM 2019: Redevelopment Planning & Project Implementation Director Robin Latondresse and Dr. Anson Koo visit one of the outdoor patios during construction of the Mental Health and Substance Use Wellness Centre.

Teaching and Research

Royal Columbian is Fraser Health’s education hub for UBC’s Psychiatry Residency Program, and the new facility will have more space to teach medical students, psychiatry residents, psychologists, nursing students, and other health professionals.

“What we know is that if we train people in the places where there is need, they will stay,” says Dr. Koo. “That’s been our experience with our residency program, where the vast majority of our psychiatry residents stay in Fraser Health to work.”

The new centre also allows for psychiatric research.

“We have a strong working relationship with UBC, and now we have a dedicated space where we can facilitate academic work and provide support for research which examines the mental health needs of our diverse and rapidly growing Fraser Health population,” says Dr. Koo.

In addition to all these mental health services, the building also includes a café, an underground parkade and an Energy Centre that provides power to the entire hospital.

For Dr. Koo, it’s all been a long time coming.

“Mental health and wellness are core to our well-being,” he says. “This redevelopment will help address the need to help people in all our communities more quickly and more effectively in a truly therapeutic environment.”

Hospital Team