The Canadian Mental Health Association is hopeful that changes to mental health care in Sudbury will still meet the needs of patients.

The North Bay hospital provides beds for mental health patients in Sudbury at the Kirkwood site, which is located at the old Algoma Hospital. But this week it announced it is closing 16 specialized beds at the facility. The closures are part of larger cuts to staff and programs in North Bay that were made to balance the books.

The Canadian Mental Health Association's Sudbury CEO said the agency is working with the hospital to build a new support home that displaced patients will move into.

Marion Quigley

CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Sudbury, Marion Quigley, says the Managed Alcohol Program will be under the same roof with other agencies and services. (CBC)

"It's been in the works for a while, but when the announcement comes there is always shock and surprise for a community to manage," Marion Quigley said.

While the changes are related to the budget, Quigley noted there's also value in taking a different approach.

"A lot of the individuals that go to Kirkwood leave there to come into the community," she said.

"If they could be more integrated into the community, they could have more experiences."

A location for the new home has not yet been found.

The uncertainty concerns NDP health critic Frances Gelinas.

"It's one more step toward precarious care for people who are severely mentally ill," she said.

"The theory is that if you can have a circle of care around them in the community, they do better. But the reality is that is has never worked."

Quigley said alternative arrangements for closing the hospital beds may have to be made closer to the deadline, if the new community home is not ready.