New suicide prevention initiative at the hospital

File photo

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region is piloting a new program in its emergency room to hopefully identify more patients at risk of suicide.

With the new initiative, instead of just interviewing patients who present symptoms of mental illness, every patient is screened for a suicide risk.

“We are the only emergency room as far as I know, (when we implemented the program) that decided to screen everyone over the age of 17, not just those who come in with a mental health complaint,” said vice president of integrated services Carol Gregoryk.

“We have discovered that sometimes people who come in with a cut on their hand, when we ask them questions about self-harm or those types of things, they’re positive for that.”

If a patient does show signs of being at risk of suicide, the hospital then creates a safety plan for the patient. Sometimes that means creating an avenue for the person to receive help after they have returned home.

The change is one of many being undertaken at the Victoria Hospital as the health authority continues to try to improve patient care in the emergency room.

Other changes include increased security and training for nurse, due to the frequency of violent incidents, improved processing for mental health patients and other initiatives to increase the speed patients are seen.

One of those initiatives has increased the speed at which lab tests are processed, meaning patients can get in and out of the hospital faster.

For more on this story, please see the April 28 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.