New Mental Health Acute Day Hospital sees positive impact on inpatient psychiatric unit bed pressures one year after opening

Photo of the day hospital at the Abbie J. Lane Building site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
Photo of the day hospital at the Abbie J. Lane Building site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

Nova Scotia Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP) received funding from the Nova Scotia Office of Addictions and Mental Health to pilot a mental health acute day hospital service in Central Zone at the Abbie J. Lane Building site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

The service opened to patients on April 1, 2022. Since then, the day hospital has helped improve access to care for people experiencing intense psychiatric symptoms but who do not require 24-hour inpatient support. It also helped decrease the number of overnight hospital admissions, easing existing pressures on inpatient psychiatric units and within the broader health care system, without compromising patient care or clinical outcomes for people living with mental illness.

“Since opening, there were 1,776 distinct visits of 139 individuals,” said Dr. Sanjana Sridharan, head of Acute Consultation and Emergency Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions Program, Nova Scotia Health. “Of the 139 individuals seen, 118 commenced the program.” The day hospital will also help ease existing pressures on inpatient acute psychiatric units, emergency departments and Emergency Health Services (EHS) - without compromising patient care or outcomes. It provides an additional option for admission from emergency departments – supporting overall provincial bed management and access and flow.

“Early analysis has shown a positive impact on bed pressures. When we added up all the days all 118 participants stayed with the Mental Health Day Hospital to date, 3,617 inpatient days were saved. We continue to monitor our data, and will be able to determine the full scale of impact later on this year, said Dr. Sridharan.

The day hospital is co-located with other MHAP acute psychiatric services at the Abbie J. Lane Building in a well-established outpatient clinic that is welcoming and accessible for patients.
The day hospital team is comprised of mental health specialists, including a newly hired psychiatrist, nursing staff and social workers. The team provides individual psychiatric treatments and therapeutic group programs.

Admissions come through community mental health clinics and emergency departments. People discharged from inpatient psychiatric care are also able to be referred to the day hospital for follow-up care.

MHAP looks forward to the opening of the second day hospital pilot this spring at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney. This pilot will expand our capacity to support Cape Bretoners experiencing mental illness and allow them greater access to the support they need on their healing journey. The day hospital will be located on the main floor of the hospital in the former community mental health and addictions clinic space.