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No more wait lists for mental health and addiction issues in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

A number of senior administration are leaving LGH.
Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. - SaltWire Network

Labrador Grenfell Health made the change as of Aug. 28




People seeking mental health or addictions services at the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will no longer be put on a wait list.

Sandy Penney, regional director of mental health and addictions for Labrador Grenfell Health (LGH), told The Labradorian they essentially changed from an appointment-based service to a walk-in service, as of Aug. 28.

Penney said previously they would receive referrals from a variety of sources, take that referral and the patient would come in, do intake and screening and then, based on the severity of the needs, clients would be placed on a waitlist in order of priority.

“We’ve changed how people access the service, but you still get the same service,” she said. “If you come in to see us today and you’re suffering from depression, for example, and we see you, we will see you again next week but you come in when you want to come in to see us.”

There was a significant no show rate in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay region, she said, and now this change will eliminate both those issues, the wait list and the no show rate.

LGH contacted people on the wait list, she said, and got good feedback from most.

“People are going to come in when they want and need the service,” Penney noted. “There are lots of disadvantages to booking appointments.

“If we book a client for an appointment for a Tuesday at 2 p.m. and they’re having a really good day that day they don’t want to come in. Why would they want to come in? Some people do call to cancel but sometimes they don’t and here we are with all these people on a wait list that could be using that appointment time.”

A similar approach was used in Eastern Health, on the Burin Peninsula, and has been going well so far. Penney said they consulted with all the regional health authorities, community partners within the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area and the provincial government.

This change is in line with the 54 recommendations adopted by the province in June of 2017, stemming from the all-party committee that was struck to create a provincial mental health and addictions plan.  The committee released a document titled ‘Towards Recovery: A mental health and addictions plan for Newfoundland and Labrador.” One of the recommendations was to reduce wait lists and wait times for mental health and addiction services.

“This is what we did to eliminate wait times and the feedback has been great so far,” Penney said. “We obviously have done tremendous amount of work to get where we’re to today.”

She said more of the recommendations will be implemented in the area and they are working on them.

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