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A sneak peek at Hamilton's new St. Joe's West 5th hospital

You can tour the cutting edge mental health facility this weekend

St. Joseph's new West 5th campus is probably unlike any hospital you've ever seen. From its canyon-like lobby drenched in natural light to its carefully-designed inpatient rooms, the cutting edge hospital is a big change from the big, blank white hospitals of the past. 

But for Jodi Younger, St. Joe's Clinical Director of General Psychiatry and Addiction Services, the hospital's most important features are the ones designed to tear down the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Along with the some 300 mental health patients that will live at the hospital, the new facility will also treat patients who require diagnostic imaging, diabetes treatment or other outpatient check-ups.

Younger says bringing a range of people to West 5th will normalize the building.

"It shouldn't be the same to go to the hospital to treat your depression as it is to treat your diabetes," she said.

"That's where we're headed."

The new hospital — designed by architects CannonDesign, built by PCL and run by Plenary Health — was designed with its inpatients in mind.

Over 70 per cent of the 855,325 square foot building has natural light and many of rooms have tranquil views of the Escarpment. Every patient will get their own room. And inside the locked area where mental health patients stay, there's a "galleria" space where patients can get a cup of coffee, have their hair done, or go to the gym.

The new facility is set to officially open on Jan. 23, but the first 200 patients won't move in until February. Construction will continue at the site throughout 2014. 

St. Joe's is offering members of the public guided walking tours of the new facility this weekend, Jan. 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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