© Guardian file photo
Dr. Richard Wedge
Health P.E.I. has hired the consulting firm Corpus Sanchez to conduct two new reviews of mental health services in P.E.I.
One of the studies will focus entirely on mental health services delivered at Hillsborough Hospital in an effort to improve access for Islanders struggling with mental health problems.
The other review will look at the role psychiatrists play in P.E.I.’s mental health-care system and how to lower the often extensive wait times Islanders must endure to see these professionals.
Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Richard Wedge says these reviews will examine these two areas and come up with recommendations on actions that can be taken to help improve access to services.
“We’re looking at existing services and programs to improve those to increase capacity,” Wedge said.
In 2008, Corpus Sanchez completed a comprehensive review of P.E.I.’s health system and delivered its report, entitled A Call to Action: A Plan for Change.
It called for the creation of Health P.E.I. and the establishment of two acute-care hospitals in Charlottetown and Summerside — controversial recommendations that have since been implemented.
This firm was recently awarded the contracts for these two new reviews after an RFP process.
They are being paid just under $50,000 for the two studies.
The review of the Hillsborough Hospital comes amid concerns raised recently by the province’s director of mental health and addictions when she told The Guardian last week the facility is antiquated and struggling with an ongoing capacity problem.
Wedge said the review will come up with recommendations on how to improve access to both acute care services and other less urgent care.
The second study will look at the patchwork of psychiatric services in P.E.I.
“Right now we have a mix of psychiatry, some are in private offices, some are in community mental health, some are psychiatrists who work through the emergency room who work in the inpatient units,” Wedge said.
“So, what we want to do is co-ordinate that to make sure we’re improving access.”
But Opposition health critic James Aylward said he is frustrated government is doing more studies, especially since consultants have already investigated these issues.
He pointed to the $85,000 review of mental health and addiction services completed last year by MRSB.
Aylward also pointed to sections in the 2008 Corpus Sanchez report that pointed to a “systematic fragmentation” of mental health and addiction services in P.E.I.
The 2008 report identified problems with the acute-care delivery system at the Hillsborough Hospital and also that there were extensive wait times for psychiatric services.
Wedge explained that the MRSB report was commissioned by the Department of Health in order to make recommendations on policy changes.
These new Corpus Sanchez reports have been commissioned by Health P.E.I. to look for direction from an operational perspective.
Aylward said he believes this displays a disconnect between the health minister, the department and Health P.E.I.
“How long do we have to wait for a minister and for government to get on the same page and actually move forward and take some action?” Aylward said.
“We can continue to study this to death, we can continue to buy reports. I think actually what they’re trying to do is buy a report that will finally tell Islanders what they want Islanders to hear but they can’t find a report that will do that.”
The two Corpus Sanchez reports are scheduled to be completed and delivered to government by the spring.