Bluewater Health opens temporary Residential Withdrawal Management facility

Patients will be accepted into seven-bed program starting Monday, Jan. 15; next phase of project, selection of a permanent site, has begun

Bluewater Health opened its temporary Residential Withdrawal Management Services facility on Friday. Pictured, from left, are Ralph Ganter of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network; Bluewater Health board chair Wayne Pease, Paula Reaume-Zimmer, vice president of mental health and addiction services; Laurie Hicks, patient and family advocate for addictions residential treatment; Dr. Emmanuel Anyaegbuna, chief of psychiatry; and Mike Lapaine, and Lambton County Warden Bill Weber.

Bluewater Health officially opened seven temporary Residential Withdrawal Management beds on Friday (Jan. 12, 2018), noting it will accept clients on Monday, January 15. The hospital formally announced its progression to the next phase of developing a permanent 24-bed Residential Withdrawal Management facility, that being the selection of a site.

The need for Residential Withdrawal Management Services in Sarnia Lambton is an urgent one.

Between 2014 and 2017, the number of people accessing Bluewater Health’s Community Withdrawal Treatment services more than tripled. The new facility includes residential withdrawal beds, stabilization beds, community withdrawal management services, day treatment and referral services. “We know that our community needs a permanent 24-bed stand-alone facility and today we are delighted to open our first phase – seven beds which we are opening to clients on Monday,” said Bluewater Health CEO Mike Lapaine, “We expect that these seven beds will be full immediately and we are committed to continuing with our push for a permanent solution in our community.”

Lennard Commercial Realty, a real estate broker contracted by Bluewater Health, has identified site requirements for a permanent facility and is prepared to accept inquiries on the potential location.

With funding announced in October 2017, the planning that had been done for the permanent facility enabled the Bluewater Health team to quickly renovate existing space in the hospital and develop a model of care that will provide residents of Sarnia Lambton with access to services that will support their long-term success in managing their addictions.

The learnings from these seven beds will further inform planning for the permanent facility, according to Gail Czukar, CEO, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario.

“When someone is looking for help with their substance use, it’s essential that they are quickly connected to the necessary services and supports,” said Czukar. “This new residential withdrawal management service will fill a critical gap in the Sarnia-Lambton region, by providing a local, safe, 24/7 space for individuals to access treatment. We urge the government to move quickly to support the full 24-bed, community-based program.”

For people struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and who have decided to stop using, the Residential Withdrawal Management beds are being called a safe space for withdrawal. Clients who have checked in to these beds will be monitored and supported by professional withdrawal management workers and nurses, who understand what actions to take to prevent or treat medical distress. Upon completion of their withdrawal, clients will be provided with connections to services to support their ongoing recovery and appropriate to their individual circumstances and needs.

Not everybody will follow the same recovery journey, say Bluewater Health officials.

Some people may choose to access a residential rehabilitation program while others may choose to continue with or start working with a community withdrawal team. Clients wishing to access the Residential Withdrawal Management Centre can call (519) 464-4487 to learn more about Withdrawal Services available. The 24-bed permanent facility is still in development phase and a next-phase submission is due to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care including a potential site.

Lennard Commercial Realty, a real estate broker contracted by Bluewater Health, has identified site requirements for a permanent facility and is prepared to accept inquiries on the potential location. Noting that Sarnia has multiple locations that may be appropriate, Lennard Commercial Realty has developed site requirements for the new facility and purchased or leased properties will be considered. The property must be zoned “crisis care” or similar. All services and transit options must be available to the site. Existing building of 25,000 square feet or a development opportunity on one to two acres of land will be considered.

Enquiries can be forwarded to Bob Drizis at bdrizis@lennard.com by January 23, 2018.

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