Hospital Plans to Improve Mental Health Emergency Services

Dr. Peter Voros, Executive Vice President of In-Patient Programs, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Northwestern Ontario experiences high rates of mental health concerns. Because of this, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is prioritizing Acute Mental Health with plans to significantly improve mental health emergency services.

Planning is underway for a Mental Health Emergency Service (MHES) at the Hospital. The concept is to provide specialized care for patients who come to the Emergency Department (ED) in a mental health crisis, while also addressing the high demand for addiction services that exist within our community. The MHES would provide a safe, secure and appropriate space for care and help reduce stigma and improve safety, privacy, comfort and ultimately the quality of care that our patients and their families receive.

“We see high volumes of patients in mental health crisis at our Hospital, which is likely due to a combination of socio-economic realities across our region,” said Dr. Peter Voros, Executive Vice President, In-Patient Programs. “We’ve really made mental health a priority in our Strategic Plan, ensuring that mental health is viewed as a crucial part of overall health. The development of a robust Mental Health Emergency Service located within our Emergency Department is an important step to improve care.”

The MHES will improve patient care and experiences by decreasing Emergency Department length of stay for patients presenting with mental health concerns.  Under this new service, patients will be seen and assessed much sooner.  The MHES is expected to help patients through the use of Psychiatric stabilization, thereby avoiding unnecessary admissions.

MHES will be staffed by an interdisciplinary team of professionals, including a physician, psychiatrist, nurses, social workers, administrative clerk and security. The service will require some expansion and renovations to our existing Emergency Department and other areas of the Hospital in order to ensure adequate space for the needs of our patients.

“Although the MHES is still in the early stages of development, we are confident it will help us better attend to the mental health status of our region,” said Voros. “Its benefits will not only improve the care and satisfaction of our patients and their families, but will also improve conditions for staff.”

To learn more about mental health services at our Hospital, visit