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Waypoint steps up acute mental health supports during critical time (en anglais)
Waypoint steps up acute mental health supports during critical time (en anglais)
Posted on 10/21/2022
Waypoint steps up acute mental health supports during critical time
Primary care services, additional beds and new urgent psychiatric consultation for EDs available to help 
Since the pandemic began, Waypoint Centre forDr. Rebecca Van Iersel Mental Health Care has been stepping up its acute mental health services and integrating enhanced physical healthcare to help patients and support hospital and health care system partners during a critical time of bed pressures, staffing challenges and surgical backlogs.

“We committed to growing our team of family physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to maximize the physical healthcare we’re able to provide here and move patients from emergency departments to Waypoint faster,” says Dr. Nadiya Sunderji, President and CEO. “We’ve also expanded ECT, are launching a new urgent outpatient psychiatric consultation service, and throughout the pandemic have operated as many as 25 extra acute mental health beds, with 14 additional beds operating currently for a total of 34.”

In June, Waypoint announced the recruitment of Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Van Iersel to replace Dr. Kevin Young as the hospital’s Medical Director, Integrated Care with Dr. Young moving into the VP of Medical Affairs and Chief of Staff role. Van Iersel is leading the team of family physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work along-side our team of psychiatrists and clinical staff to support physical and mental health care needs of patients.
“Waypoint’s innovative approach to integrated physical and psychiatric care is what drew me to the hospital,” she says. “The vision of the hospital’s senior leadership team to expand inpatient physical health care means we can take patients from emergency departments faster and manage both their mental health crisis and primary care needs here. With our great team and investments in new equipment we also do not have to transport patients out to community hospitals as often, helping to save those very needed acute hospital beds for surgical and other patients.”

Van Iersel has an interesting history having grown up in Kathmandu, Nepal, an experience that was quite formative as she witnessed first-hand what it meant to have little access to healthcare and the incredible stress it puts on people. Having also worked as a family physician in an acute mental health unit she saw the value in being able to look after physical health care needs that often co-occur when people are experiencing severe mental illness. “It is very rewarding to be able to comprehensively care for people’s mental, physical, social and spiritual needs here.”

Waypoint is continuously looking at quality improvement and meeting patients where they are at in their health care journey, she says, sharing some examples:
   * Working with inpatients before they leave the hospital and with community partners on transitional care
      plans is critical work we do to support people to remain well in the community and prevent the need for
      repeat ED visits and hospitalizations.

   * Tailoring services to support the different clinical units and patient populations served at Waypoint, for
      example the 34 acute mental health beds and the Horizon Program serving seniors with complex needs
      often require more support.

   * Collaboratively developing integrated care pathways with partners that will support family physicians
      managing patients in their offices, and integrate hospital and community services as a part of our
      Innovative Model Central Ontario Health Team for Specialized Populations.

   * Mentoring and developing clinical team members in their physical health skills with Waypoint’s
      Professional Practice team and leaders.

“Dr. Van Iersel is a fantastic addition to our team and her unique clinical and leadership experience with a health systems lens is helping to move forward the great work Dr. Young started over the past few years. Integrated care, combined with our child and youth mental health supports, the outpatient urgent consultation service and the additional acute mental health beds we hope to make permanent, are all part of how we are taking a system approach to meeting today’s pressures on our region and stepping up to care for our community,” says Sunderji.

Van Iersel came to Waypoint after serving as the Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. She previously served as the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network’s Physician Lead for Clinical Planning and System Integration and Vice-President, Clinical.