New mental health program launches

News / General
By Peter Jeffrey

Program to support patients after they have been discharged

After months of careful planning, a new program has launched this week for patients in our Mental Health Program. It’s called the Intensive Transitional Treatment Program (ITTP) and it’s all about supporting vulnerable patients soon after they are discharged from Kingston General Hospital.

“We know that leaving the inpatient unit on Burr 4 can be a stressful time for some people, as they often do not have all the supports they need in place at home yet,” says Richard Jewitt, Program Operational Director for Mental Health and Medicine. “This program will help them stay connected to the care they were receiving at KGH during this important time of transition.”

There is space in the program for 40 patients at any one time. Each patient can stay for a maximum of four weeks and patients will be selected for it based on their need at the time of their discharge. Once they are enrolled, they will be able to return to Burr 4 each day for individual counseling and group therapy sessions with a newly created interprofessional team that includes a new program coordinator. This team will also help them connect with other important resources, such as community agencies and peer support groups.

“This program will fill a big need for patients with mental illness and their family members,” says Donna Wade, Patient Experience Advisor who helped KGH create the ITTP. “The discharge period is often a high-risk time for many patients, with increased rates of suicide, relapse and readmission to the hospital within the first year, and particularly the first month.”

As such, the new program is also expected to have a positive impact on patient flow at KGH on several fronts. For starters, the extra support it provides should help many recently discharged patients avoid needing to return to our busy Emergency Department (ED) to be assessed and potentially readmitted. In some cases, patients arriving in our ED may also be able to transition directly into the ITTP without having to be admitted first to our inpatient unit.

The program will also help with flow in and out of the inpatient mental health unit itself, as many patients won’t need to stay there as long as they used to, now that the new outpatient program is in place.

“Thanks to the funding for the program from the South East LHIN, we are now creating 40 extra spaces for patient care at KGH that weren’t there before. This will help more patients get the care they need in the right setting,” says Jewitt. “As one of our Patient Experience Advisors said, being discharged from a hospital can feel a lot like being shoved off a cliff if proper supports are not in place. This program will act as a much needed and very timely parachute for those in need of continued support.”