Psychiatric services added to Prince Rupert

The staggering amount of suicidal cases at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has led to the inclusion of two psychiatric liaison nurses

Andrew Lee

The staggering amount of suicidal cases at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has led to the inclusion of two psychiatric liaison nurses.

The emergency room was seeing approximately 180 suicidal presentations a year, said Chris Melenberg, a team led at Northern Health Mental Health and Addictions in Prince Rupert.

In 2014, the Ministry of Health provided $2 million in matched funds to each health authority to strengthen services for individuals with severe addiction and/or mental illness, otherwise known as  the SAMI population.

Northern Health directed approximately $180,000 from the funding to create the full-time positions starting this September.

“Because they’re seeing there are just so many presentations for suicidality Northern Health thought it would be nice to have a nurse that has a little more of that specialty and to do some of the counseling in the moment and link to services,” Melenberg said.

The psychiatric liaisons will provide consultation in the emergency department and patient care floor.

Suicide rates are 25 times the national average among the indigenous populations and northern regions of the country. The B.C. Coroner was unable to provide updated statistics on the Northwest in time for publication.

Hiring the psychiatric liaison nurses for the Prince Rupert hospital is one way to buoy the mental health system in the city, but Melenberg explained that there’s a bigger picture to consider.

“If we don’t have great jobs here in town, we have a lot of minimum wage jobs and professional jobs but not a lot in the middle. There’s not a lot of homeless support. Those kinds of things play into the factors. Often times when people are suicidal it’s a lot of situational factors,” he said.

Canada has a patchwork of strategies for handling suicide, which was highlighted in a Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial released earlier in September.

The article stressed the need for a national suicide prevention strategy. The article stated that countries that had implemented a government-directed strategy by 2011 saw suicide rates decrease.

While there is no consistent strategy in Prince Rupert, Northern Health does offer several community services in the city, including a crisis response unit, short-term counseling and long-term case management and culturally safe addiction counseling through the Friendship Centre. There are also two rooms in the hospital dedicated as a safe place to keep people short-term if they have been deemed suicidal and need extra care.

Angela Szabo, the director of acute care services for Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, said having the psychiatric liaison nurses is a new program for the hospital.

“In Prince Rupert, we’ve long recognized the need locally to build on the care continuum of services for our community and this includes doing so in partnership with others. When we became aware that this funding was available we made sure that we moved forward in partnership,” she said.

The psychiatric liaison nurse can’t write prescriptions but they can do assessments and help doctors make decisions on what to do or what not to do, Melenberg said.

As of Sept. 6 the psychiatric services run from Monday to Friday. Once the second nurse has been trained there will be coverage at the hospital seven days a week by Oct. 29.

“I think it’s helpful too because ER is where the higher risk people will go and staff don’t have that specialty necessarily. Maybe they’ve taken a course or two in mental health but they don’t often times know. This will help make things more consistent in the future,” Melenberg said.

 

Just Posted

Prince Rupert marine business adds second catamaran to its fleet

100-passenger Aurora was launched this year for the Rio Tinto Kemano tunnel project

Sustainble economy flourishing in Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest thanks to First Nations investments

From 2008-2018, funding initiatives led to more than $286 million in new investments

Cats of Third Avenue fire are safe and sound

Boris, Ben, Boomboom, and Bella were found two days after their home was set ablaze

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church hosting second flea market for Prince Rupert community

Prince Rupert community members are welcome to come browse or donate stuff for sale

Prince Rupert’s Seamen shine in year end rugby victory

Weekend doubleheader featured a historic win over Williams Lake

WEB POLL: Would you like to see another mural go up where Zorba’s Taverna’s old one used to be?

The iconic quirky mural from Prince Rupert’s Greek restaurant was painted over this week

Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Oil and gas sector cautious as deadline on Trans Mountain decision nears

Trudeau government expected to announce whether it will approve pipeline for second time on Tuesday

Skipping school costs a dozen B.C. students chance at a new car

Cowichan’s Jared Lammi showed up and won $5,000 cheque toward vehicle, but he can’t drive

People throwing food at a bear in Fernie alarms conservation groups

“Approaching and feeding bears contributes to habituation,” says conservation group

Feds announce $50M strategy to fight dementia

Emphasis is on prevention and and supporting caregivers

Federal Liberals’ plan to help first-time homebuyers to kick in weeks before election

Ottawa to pick up 5% of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Most Read