Kamloops News

Children can be treated in renovated psychiatry unit at Royal Inland

Health Service Director Kris Kristjanson, right, explains the unit's renovations to Health Minister Terry Lake, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

KAMLOOPS – The Royal Inland Hospital is set to open the recently upgraded psychiatry unit on the pediatric floor within three weeks, and the renovated space will be available to child psychiatry patients from Kamloops and the Thompson, Nicola and Cariboo regions. 

The $850,000 funding the project came from Interior Health and the Thompson Regional Hospital District. The Royal Inland Hospital Foundation helped secure a $20,000 grant from the RBC Foundation to furnish the space.

Raj Chahal, Royal Inland’s coordinator of child psychiatry, says the crisis stabilization unit will be available to children 17 and under for an average of ten days. He points out the amount of time is not a deadline as each case varies.

Not all patients require hospitalization. “We serve a large amount (of patients) in the outpatient clinic as well,” Chahal says.

Chahal said the length of stay is determined on a case-by-case basis but if children need longer hospitalization they may be moved, either to another bed in the hospital or somewhere else in the province.

“Children who need to stay longer or need more assessment we refer them to (Kelowna),” she said. The Kelowna unit is the central unit for the interior.

The psychiatry unit, on average, has two children who require hospitalization. If a patient is admitted but there is no extra room available at Royal Inland, Chahal says: “Sometimes we may have to refer them to the (Children’s Hospital in Vancouver) if we have no room for them here.”

Renovations to the existing child psychiatry unit included integration of two existing in patient rooms, consulting area, and a staff room. The space has grown and now includes a new counselling area, washroom, a nurses’ station and a room with showers for patients on the pediatric unit.

In addition to the youth lounge area, patients can enjoy an expanded patio for outdoor recreation.

The confidential support provided by Royal Inland’s unit includes treatment from professionals ranging from psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, child and youth workers and, on occasion, occupational therapists. All patients establish community supports before leaving the facility where they engage in one-to-one and group therapy.

“Our youth are among our most vulnerable patients and it’s important they are cared for in an environment that is comfortable, welcoming and, most importantly, safe,” Health Minister Terry Lake says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email gbrothen@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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