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SJHH / Quality & Performance/ A Commitment to Transparency/ Psychiatric Emergency Service

Update on Psychiatric Emergency Service

Update on Psychiatric Emergency Service at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

October 2019 

As part of our commitment to high quality care, we are writing to share an update with you regarding the Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES).

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (St. Joe’s) is the regional centre for mental health and addiction, and is the second largest provider of mental health and addiction in Ontario. St. Joe’s is home to the busiest emergency department in the city and has the only adult psychiatric emergency department in Hamilton.

The PES was built nearly two decades ago. Through the years St. Joe’s has worked to address concerns to create a better environment for our patients and our healthcare providers, but challenges remain given the space, growing needs and the changing nature of mental health and addiction.

In April, the Post Graduate Education Committee (PEC) of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences withdrew residents from working in PES. After a number of actions taken by the hospital in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, the residents returned in May of 2019.

St. Joe’s residents, physicians and all staff deserve to work in an environment that is safe and supportive. St. Joe’s commissioned an external review of our Psychiatric Emergency Service to ensure best care for patients and a good working environment for all. This review was conducted by three experts from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

St. Joe’s accepts the recommendations of the external review and has created an action plan to address them that will be updated regularly. In addition, the Quality Committee of the Joint Boards of Governors will oversee the implementation. 

The recommendations broadly focus on leadership, quality of care, physical space, patient flow and resident supervision.

St. Joe’s wishes to thank everyone involved, in particular the Psychiatric Emergency Service and Emergency Department teams, who are contributing to the resolution of these challenges. Their commitment to implementing these important recommendations is appreciated.

As St. Joe’s moves forward, team work and patient-centred care will be fundamental to success.

St. Joe’s continues to be committed to serving our community and our patients through excellent quality care, delivered with dignity and respect.

Below is the link to the Executive Summary of the 13 recommendations and activity underway related to each of those recommendations and an estimated time of completion.


Ms. Melissa Farrell, President

Dr. David Russell, Interim Chief of Staff

Please follow this link to see the Recommendations.