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Province provides cash to aid mental-health care crisis

BY HEATHER CAMPBELL Mental health services in this city are back in the hands of Sudbury decision makers.

Mental health services in this city are back in the hands of Sudbury decision makers.

The final report and recommendations from ministry appointed facilitator Ken White, president and CEO of Trillium Health Centre, were released Friday. The recommendations have been accepted by Minister of Health George Smitherman.

For Sudbury the solution means that community programs will be transferred to decision-makers at Sudbury Regional Hospital. Six community clinics
will be transferred to the SRH, while the eating disorders program will go to the Northeast Mental Health Centre (NEMHC).

In addition to community programs, both one-time and base funding of $1,390,000 has been committed to Sudbury for:

- Annualized funding for SRH to support the $330,000 community mental health programs deficit.

- New annualized funding of $200,000 to Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA).

- New annualized funding of $200,000 for clinical positions for developing outpatient clinic.

- New annualized funding of $200,000 for consolidated community programs to enhance service delivery.

- New annualized funding of $160,000 to SRH to support wage harmonization.

- One-time funding of $200,000 for orientation of approximately 80 staff transferring from NEMHC to SRH.

One-time funding of $100,000 for SRH legal and IT costs associated with the transfer.

Ursula Sauve, chair for the local mental health advocates group, said she is satisfied with the process and the outcomes.

The advocate group organized in spring 2004 to push the provincial government to stop removing community programs and local-decision making from Sudbury.

In November 2004 White was appointed to facilitate the transfer of local and district mental health and addiction programs in Sudbury and North Bay.

?I believe this is a ?win-win? situation for all parties in Sudbury and North Bay and one that satisfies the goals of quality patient care and community consensus,? said White in a news release.

Dr. Rayudu Koka, medical director for the Sudbury Regional Hospital?s mental health programs, says that White was patient and committed to finding a solution that worked for all stakeholders.

?He understood the problem and came up with a solution.?

The other significant announcement from the report is that the SRH will get 60 short-stay acute care mental health beds instead of the long proposed 39 beds. Sauve commented that throughout the process the advocates group kept reinforcing the issue of required beds for an effective system in Sudbury.

The goal is to have the appropriate service delivered in the appropriate setting by the most appropriate person in close proximity to the patient?s
family and support network, said White?s report.

Koka is very thankful for Smitherman?s attention to the issue in Sudbury and said he believes the public will be better served with these changes.