More innovation, more compassion, more heart

Bringing mental and physical healthcare under one roof

By Cathy Szabo

In just a few months, Providence Care will begin delivering patient care in our brand new hospital.

Our new building is leading-edge in many ways: it provides access to outdoor spaces on every level, all inpatients will have private rooms, and the technology incorporated throughout the facility will make it easier to communicate in real-time.  Designed with the theme of ‘At the Water’s Edge,’ Providence Care Hospital draws in natural light to every space, and offers spectacular views to Lake Ontario.

But what has me excited most is a principle Providence Care has applied to this redevelopment project from the start: no matter what diagnosis an individual has, they will have  access to all support and services.

Why do I say this? It is because Providence Care Hospital will be among the first publicly-funded hospitals in North America to fully integrate long-term mental health care with physical rehabilitation and complex care.

For years, psychiatric care has been delivered in stand-alone institutions and hospitals.  Here in Kingston, it was 1859 when the Rockwood Asylum was established on the lakefront.

While the early days of care at Rockwood and similar institutions across Ontario would shock us now, over time we have made remarkable reforms in how mental health care is delivered.

Providence Care Hospital takes the next big step forward.

As we worked with architects to design the building, we insisted that patients and their families have a say in what the hospital should look and feel like.  Our frontline staff have also been active participants throughout the redevelopment process.

Several innovations have been inspired by patient and staff involvement.  We had long conversations over several weeks about whether the windows inpatient rooms needed to be operable or not. It was a challenge because having windows that can open and shut can interfere with building heating and cooling systems.

But we listened to the experts – our clients and our staff – and that led to the installation of window vents in each of the 270 inpatient bedrooms. This was important in particular to the people representing our mental health programs, who voiced the recovery and healing benefits of not only the fresh air, but things like the sounds of children playing in the park or smells of freshly cut grass.

Providence Care has a group of ‘Experience Advisors’ who are past patients and family members. They sit on committees to offer their perspectives and input. One of our advisors has been passionate about ensuring the new hospital is welcoming to children – even though our clinical programs serve adults.  As a former client of mental health services herself, she points out the importance of being able to feel comfortable having your family visit during an inpatient stay.

In April, when we move our hospital programs from our two current sites into the single, brand new Providence Care Hospital, we will be celebrating. By bringing together mental and physical health under one roof, we are saying that no matter what type of care you need – we want to give you the best care.

More innovation, more compassion and more heart, at Providence Care Hospital.

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Providence Care Hospital includes:

  • 270 private inpatient rooms
  • A therapy pool, gymnasium and walking track
  • One main entrance, for all clients, visitors and staff
  • Dining rooms and social spaces on each unit
  • Natural light, colours and art through the building

Cathy Szabo is President and CEO, Providence Health.