Nfld. & Labrador

Essential piece of new mental health unit in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in place

The province has awarded the design contract, to get the ball rolling on building the new six-bed unit.

'It's a trigger that the whole thing is ready to roll,' says Health Minister John Haggie

The new mental health unit will be built at the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The province has awarded the design contract for a new six-bed mental health unit in Happy Valley Goose Bay, in what the minister of health and community services calls an essential piece toward making the unit a reality.

"It's the trigger that the whole thing is ready to roll," said John Haggie.

The $426,000 contract was given to the St. John's-based firm Fougere Menchenton Architecure, which will now begin sketching out what the new unit will look like. The plans will then be tendered out for the actual construction.

The long-awaited unit will be attached to the Labrador Health Centre. Haggie stressed that it's actually the last piece to be implemented in the effort to increase mental health services in Labrador.

"The crucial piece is to really emphasize more the role of community supports, and treatment in the home," he said.

To that end, Labrador Grenfell-Health has increased those supports in the last 18 months, which include establishing mental health walk-in clinics, increased access to mental health services via telehealth, and offering online counselling.

Haggie said with those efforts, the number of Labradorians waiting for counselling has decreased from 400 to four.

Health Minister John Haggie says the mental health, and workload, of the soon-to-be staffers of the new unit is top of mind during the hiring process. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

Helping health-care workers

Mental health among health-care workers has also been an issue of Labrador of late, with one senior nurse speaking publicly in February of how stress and workload drove her to quit.

Haggie said the health authority will be taking steps to ensure adequate staffing and supports for the new mental health unit, and has a two-year lead time to get things right.

Haggie hopes the design work will be finished in time to award the contract for construction by the end of 2019, with the goal to begin construction at the start of the 2020 season.

The 2019 budget included $1 million toward the construction of the unit.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning

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