From the emergency unit, to substance withdrawal, to youth/family outpatient programs and long-term inpatient care, CAMH’s 800-plus nurses are there for our clients every step of the way. Let’s meet a few of the nurses who continue to help transform lives for CAMH clients.
Advanced Practice Nurse intern Elisabeth Nardi and her colleagues at the CAMH Emergency Unit (EU) assist more than 700 clients each month who arrive confused and hurting from mental illness. “The therapeutic relationship is the foundation,” says Elisabeth, a Registered Nurse. “Some clients are in a very acute state and we are looking to support and help stabilize them.” Triage provides an initial snapshot of the client, followed by an assessment of factors such as the client’s history and medical issues. “We are there 24/7 so if you are having a panic attack in the middle of the night, we will help you through that.”
Ruth Millard, a Registered Nurse in CAMH’s Acute Care Unit (ACU) and General Psychiatry Unit (GPU), was on the streetcar one day when a young man in a suit, a former client, recognized her. “I just wanted to say thank you,” he said, adding that he was on his way to work. “It’s really rewarding to see clients regain aspects of their lives,” says Ruth. The ACU has six beds for clients in acute situations; the GPU has 22 beds for clients who are more stable and undergoing assessment to determine the best path of care. Ruth’s approach involves calmness and honesty. “We want clients to feel respected and be as comfortable as possible.”
For Valerie Noel, a Registered Nurse with CAMH’s Complex Mental Illness forensic program, clients and staff on her inpatient unit are “more like a family. I’ll say ‘goodnight guys’ at the end of my shift, and I’ll hear ‘goodnight Val.’ It’s that kind of relationship.” The unit provides care for male clients who have both mental illness and involvement with the law. Key parts of her work include in-depth daily assessments. “At the end of the day, “hope springs eternal,” she says. “All clients would like to go home, whether that’s back to their family home, a group home or their own apartment. A successful reintegration within the community – that is the goal.”
Fareeda Mohamed is a Registered Nurse in CAMH’s Medical Withdrawal Services, an important stop for clients who need to detox from alcohol and other drugs. “It’s a different kind of nursing,” says Fareeda. “It’s more about assessment of the client and supporting their journey through withdrawal, and then back to the community or to more specialized programs.” Alcohol detox is typically managed over a one-week period. “We see such a huge change in the clients between the start of withdrawal and when they leave our program,” says Fareeda. “We want to create a welcoming atmosphere for a client who may tell us: ‘I’ve relapsed and I need help.’
Maria Lainas, a Registered Practical Nurse, works out of the outpatient Downtown West Clinic on Queen St. West. “We have to advocate and support our clients going well beyond their mental health status,” she says. “If a client loses housing – for example due to a relapse of their illness – it’s very hard to get it back.” Maria’s team works with housing agencies to find options and trouble-shoot client issues. Clients have access to regular visits to see the full care team and can benefit from a rich range of groups and supportive programming. “When I see clients really trying and doing well, I know I’ve done the best I could to help them on their recovery journey.”