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BC  

New help for mental health

The grounds of a hospital that once housed thousands of mentally ill patients in Coquitlam will be the site of a new facility for people suffering from mental health and addiction, though the city's mayor says he hoped for more treatment beds during B.C.'s opioid epidemic.

Premier John Horgan said in a release Friday that the 105-bed centre on the lands of the former Riverview psychiatric hospital is a step toward improving treatment for those with both mental health and substance use disorders.

The residential care facility is slated to open in 2019 and replaces the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said the facility will be central to the creation of a community of care and give families the services and support they desperately need.

"I have talked to families from all around the province and heard countless heart-breaking stories about the struggle finding adequate care for a loved one coping with mental illness and addiction," she said in a statement.

Patients with the most severe and complex issues from throughout B.C. will be treated at the centre where telehealth technology will be used to support team-based approaches to care and improve communication between health-care providers wherever they are in the province.

Construction is already underway at the nearly 100-hectare site on two projects — the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre for youth and Community Living British Columbia's Provincial Assessment Centre.

Mayor Richard Stewart said the city granted a permit for the mental health and addictions centre in the spring after it was announced by the former Liberal government two years ago.

He said the new facility will have just 11 more beds than the one it's replacing in Burnaby, but he'd hoped to hear many more mentally ill people suffering from addiction would be getting treatment there, especially during the current opioid crisis.

"There are a lot of people pressing for the urgent opening of significant capacity for addictions treatment. We as a city called for that back in 2015," Stewart said.

"Now fentanyl has made it even more urgent that we get something like that in place as quickly as possible."



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