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County investing $1.2M in mental health services benefitting south Simcoe

'We know (Southlake Regional Health Centre) will be a regional asset and provides a safe space for residents of south Simcoe to receive the care they need,' says warden
From left are John Marshman, vice-president of capital, facilities and business development at Southlake Regional Health Centre; Dr. Gaurav Mehta, medical director for inpatient psychiatry at Southlake Regional Health Centre; Barb Steed, executive vice-president of clinical services at Southlake Regional Health Centre; Simcoe County councillor and Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer; Jane Sinclair, general manager of health and emergency services with Simcoe County; Jennifer Ritter, president and CEO of the Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation; and Lesley Ring, vice-president of major gifts and campaigns with the Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation.

Simcoe County Warden George Cornell and Deputy Warden Lynn Dollin announced an investment of almost $1.25 million at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket this week.

The investment is part of a $45-million commitment over 15 years that Simcoe County has made to seven hospitals that care for Simcoe County residents.

The money will support the creation of Southlake’s new emergent mental health assessment unit, a 12-bed expansion to its adult inpatient mental health unit and the revitalization of existing spaces to provide an outdoor patio for patients.

With one-third of Ontario’s group homes in York Region – eight within walking distance of the hospital – Southlake says it sees a disproportionately high number of Ontarians seeking mental health care. These critically important expansions to their mental health program help to bridge the gap between community- and hospital-based services and better integrate care in southern Simcoe County.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increasing demand on hospital care, front-line health-care services and essential health-care workers,” Cornell said in a news release. “The county’s long-standing investment in area hospitals is more important than ever as we continue to work collaboratively to improve physical, social and psychological supports for our residents."

The warden says the new investment will help support the increasing number of hospital visits relating to mental health at Southlake.

"We know that this facility will be a regional asset and provides a safe space for residents of south Simcoe to receive the care they need," he said. 

This $1.2-million investment, coupled with the contribution of $164,000 received last year, brings the total contribution for mental health care to more than $1.4 million.

In total, the county is investing $2.7 million in Southlake as part of its 15-year, $45-million commitment.

Around $107 million has been committed over a 37-year period, from 1994 to 2031, to support the seven area hospitals that make up the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance, including Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie.

“The County of Simcoe’s continued investment in Southlake shows a commitment to improving health-care services for residents and creating a healthier community overall,” said Arden Krystal, Southlake Regional Health Centre's president and CEO. “This latest investment supports a more patient-centred and healing environment for those seeking urgent mental health care at Southlake.

"As the health-care system becomes more integrated, we will continue to forge more and deeper partnerships like the one we have with the county," Krystal added.

While the Ministry of Health funds most of a hospital’s operational cost, it does not cover all of the costs of renovations nor equipment costs. To continue to modernize and expand services, Southlake relies on the generosity of the community through donations and investments, such as this one, from other levels of government.

To cover the costs of our broader mental health program expansion that the Ministry of Health does not fund, last fall Southlake launched a campaign to transform mental health care at Southlake Regional Health Centre. They still have to raise $1.3 million to build those spaces.