CALGARY – Alberta Health Services says it’s closing one of its out-patient mental health programs at the end of March because of “inefficiencies.” The urgent psychotherapy program operates out of the Rockyview General Hospital. It employs three therapists who provide care to 60 patients; 17 additional patients are on a waiting list.
“We understand that this is a small group of patients that are affected, but we will go the extra mile to understand what their needs are and provide that service accordingly,” said Dr. Bev Adams, psychiatry department head with Alberta Health Services.
Adams says all 77 patients impacted will be assessed by the end of the month, triaged and put on waiting lists for other mental health programs.
Patients currently enrolled in the mental health outpatient program at Rockyview may be transitioned to services at the Central Clinic at the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre downtown or to Adult Outpatient Services at South Health Campus. AHS says a recent expansion at Sheldon Chumir has reduced the program’s wait time from six months to one month. At South Health Campus, the wait time is approximately six weeks.
NDP leader Rachel Notley says she was disturbed to hear the Rockyview outpatient program was being cut and believes the move could ultimately place more pressure on the system’s overburdened emergency departments.
“We know that mental health services across this province don’t measure up and that every day families suffer as a result, and the notion that we can take 77 patients out of the system and somehow find a different place for them is utterly ridiculous,” she said.