Admissions paused for Prince Albert youth mental health inpatient unit

Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital. (Herald file photo)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced Tuesday that they have temporarily paused new admissions to the child and youth inpatient mental health and psychiatric unit in Prince Albert while recruitment is underway for child and youth psychiatrists.

The resources of at least one, full-time child and youth psychiatrist in Prince Albert are required to safely manage and support the ongoing operation of the inpatient unit in Prince Albert. Admissions to the unit were paused as of July 18, as the area’s sole child and youth psychiatrist’s resignation is effective August 6

“We would like to assure patients and families that meeting the care needs of current and discharged inpatients requiring ongoing follow-up and care as well as of those receiving outpatient care and on the waitlist will continue to take priority,” Andrew McLetchie, SHA’s Vice-President Integrated Northern Health said in a release.

“The mental health, safety, and well-being of children and youth in the north, and across Saskatchewan, through timely, appropriate access to mental health resources and clinical support, is a high priority.”

Two mental health emergency holding beds will be maintained in Prince Albert to support children and youth awaiting urgent child-youth inpatient admission in Saskatoon or Regina. Adolescents 17 and 18 years of age requiring inpatient care will be temporarily managed in the Prince Albert adult unit with one on one supports.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is actively recruiting to fill two full-time child and youth psychiatry positions for the North East Child and Youth Mental Health and Psychiatry Program in Prince Albert.

In addition, the SHA is working to develop a service model through the support of Primary Health Care and community partners with a goal to realign mental health teams to meet the needs of the population.

The SHA also apologized for any stress or anxiety this may cause, and commits to keeping the Prince Albert community updated on its recruitment efforts. The goal is to have the unit reopened to admissions as soon as possible, pending successful recruitment.