Consultation Liaison Service Improves Access to Mental Health Care

Dr. Hampe, a psychiatrist, and Nadia Bottoset, Case Manager with Adult Mental Health, are providing patients on non-mental health units of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre with increased access to mental health care through the Consultation Liaison Service.

Any patient could struggle with mental health. “It’s important that mental health is viewed as part of overall health and that we’re sensitive to the needs of our patients,” explains Dr. Peter Voros, Executive Vice President of In-Patient Programs at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Patients with mental health concerns admitted to non-mental health units at our Hospital are now provided with increased access to specialized and appropriate mental health care they may need.

A new Consultation Liaison Service provides patients with referrals to psychiatric or behavioural management, liaison with the referring treatment team, ongoing monitoring of mental status, and facilitation of transfer to other mental health care services if deemed necessary. It is currently being piloted on Hospital units 1A and 2A.

“The service allows for a more robust assessment of patient needs by providing timely and efficient mental health care for adult patients admitted to medical, surgical and critical care units within our Hospital,” says Voros.

The liaison team consists of a mental health nurse and a psychiatrist. If a patient is displaying signs of psychological distress, then a member of their care team can request assistance from the consultation liaison. The mental health nurse will then meet with the patient to gather more information, provide care plan suggestions where appropriate, and help determine whether or not the psychiatrist is needed.

“Since the service has been up and running, patients are better cared for and receiving more robust assessment than before,” says Darcy Price, Manager of Adult Mental Health Services. “Patients who require the service are seen on a daily basis by the clinical liaison, which provides consistency for the patient and staff. Patients and families, and our staff now feel better supported.”

Based on the success of the Consultation Liaison Service pilot project, the Hospital aims to expand the service across the whole Hospital, ensuring all patients and their families are better cared for from a metal health perspective.