SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has opened a new adult mental health short stay unit at the Royal University Hospital (RUH) in Saskatoon.

“This new space will be conducive to adult short stay mental health treatment and recovery, and a complement to our longer-stay adult inpatient unit at Dube Centre as well as our other mental health services around the province,” SHA’s CEO Scott Livingstone said in a news release.

According to the SHA, the new permanent seven-bed unit was designed for patients 18 to 64 years old who are medically stable and have a predicted length of stay of less than seven days. The unit is staffed by two nurses providing around the clock support as well as two Continuing Care Aides providing support 16 hours a day and security services. Dedicated Psychiatry is on-site five days a week, with evenings and weekends covered by the on-call psychiatrist, the SHA said.

“What we have is the opportunity to specialize care to people that do require a shorter length of stay. They can have their needs met, we can connect them to community supports and they can transition from hospital to community in a smooth and supported way,” said Karyn Kawula, Director of Inpatient, Mental Health, Addiction Services at the SHA in Saskatoon.

The unit was created in the space formerly occupied by the adult emergency department which has now moved to another area of RUH, according to the SHA.

Everett Hindley, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health, said the government is committed to expanding mental health and additions support in the province.

“This new unit will help to address pressures and wait times for individuals in need of immediate intervention and support. It provides an appropriate therapeutic space for patients in urgent need of mental health care while community supports are being arranged,” Hindley said in the release.

The SHA said it cost $1.1 million to renovate the unit. The province also provided $1.55 million in annual funding to support operations starting in 2019-2020.

“We would like to thank the Government of Saskatchewan and Royal University Hospital Foundation for their ongoing commitment and support in helping our teams deliver exceptional patient care and make mental health a priority,” Livingstone said.