Windsor

Mobile mental health and addictions team unveiled by health minister

Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones was in Essex Monday to meet with members of the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART). The MHART aims to provide residents with, according to Jones, “timely access to appropriate treatment and referral services to supports” within their communities.

Sylvia Jones unveiled Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART) and vehicle

A woman standing at a podium answering reporter questions
Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones was in Essex to launch the new Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART) team. She also spoke about the recommendations provided by the jury in the inquest of the police shooting of Matthew Mahoney. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones was in Essex Monday to meet with members of the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART).

MHART aims to provide residents with timely access to appropriate treatment and referral services to supports within their communities, said Jones.

"This is one of the many innovative 911 models of care that have been established across Ontario," she said.

A man wearing a paramedic suit
Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter said the hours of the new Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART) could be adjusted. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The MHART team was created in partnership between Essex-Windsor EMS and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter said the team consists of two full-time paramedics and a social worker from Hôtel-Dieu Grace.

The paramedics work 12 hours a day, seven days a week and the social worker works for eight hours a day from Monday to Friday.

"It's [run] during the peak periods for mental health and addictions population," Krauter said. "It starts at seven in the morning and goes until seven at night. We're looking at revamping the hours."

Bill Marra, president and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace, is also leaving the door open to expanding the hours of the team, but said that it might not be necessary.

"We're in the process of collecting data now to understand, 'Where are the peak periods? Which days of the week? Which times of the day are the times where we need the most support?'" said Marra. "We need to understand and measure the impact that will have. If it's something we need, we'll entertain it."

A man wearing a suit
Bill Marra, president and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, said they will entertain the possibility of expanding the hours of the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART). (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Jones said the goal of the team is to prevent people from calling 911 to free up hospital beds.

Coroner's inquest

Jones answered questions about the coroner's inquest into the police shooting of Matthew Mahoney, requesting time to look at the recommendations the jury made and what it will take to implement those steps.

"I think there are absolutely opportunities where we can work more collaboratively, similar to what we're talking about here today," she said. "We need agencies, communities and organizations to be able to work together and make sure that that care is seamless."

The health minister said the MHART team could also provide services for patients requiring mental health and addictions support.

"The MHART facility and team has a wider responsibility and breadth of services that they would provide," Jones said. "Anything we can do to divert people from calling 911 because they have access to services in the community is our end goal."

Local stakeholders want to make sure the MHART team and its vehicle are here to stay.

"We are reviewing our data and are ensuring this is a long-term sustainable model for Windsor-Essex county through that innovative leadership that we've seen," said Kristin Kennedy, president & CEO Erie Shores HealthCare and co-Chair, Windsor-Essex Ontario Health Team.

Jones was also in Essex to officially launch another medical innovation. A mobile medical vehicle that will assist paramedics in dealing with 911 calls.

The mobile clinic, which cost $500,000 to build and run, according to Krauter, was built in Windsor. Krauter said its goal is to send it to communities where people need health care the most. 

A truck with a mobile health care clinic inside
The newly-unveiled mobile health clinic to be used by Windsor-Essex health care workers to bring services and care to communities that need it the most. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"This speaks to various levels of government and 40 plus organizations coming together and bringing their expertise," Jones said.

With files from Dale Molnar

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