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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Capacity doubled at Ontario’s only psychiatric emergency department

Transformation driven by Breakthrough Campaign donors alongside Ministry support

TORONTO (Oct. 30, 2014) – With increasing demand on Ontario’s only psychiatric emergency department, CAMH has improved and doubled the space available for 24/7 care for patients in crisis.

Thanks to an outstanding $2.5 million gift, CAMH is today announcing the official opening of the Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan Emergency Department, a vital step in the hospital’s breakthrough transformation of mental health care. And the need is critical. Responding to that need, thanks to the support of many generous donors, CAMH Foundation has now achieved $112 million of its $200 million goal in the Breakthrough Campaign, the world’s largest fundraising campaign for a mental health hospital.

With rising awareness of mental health, visits to the emergency department at CAMH have grown steadily: with 76 per cent more visits in 2014 than in 2006. Before the current renovations, the College Street unit was dimly lit, cramped and outdated.

“Let me be clear, more people coming in for help is a good thing,” says CAMH President & CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn, noting that as a teaching hospital CAMH also trains over 1,500 medical students, residents, fellows, nurses and allied health professionals each year from University of Toronto and many other universities and colleges. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the support of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, we now have the kind of welcoming, therapeutic space that patients and families in crisis deserve.”

Emergency Department Opening
From L to R Dr. Catherine Zahn, CAMH President and CEO; Han Dong, MPP Trinity-Spadina; Shanitha Kachan, Director, CAMH Foundation Board; Toronto businessman Gerald Sheff; Darrell Louise Gregersen, President and CEO, CAMH Foundation

Among the improvements unveiled today, the CAMH emergency department is now equipped with: two waiting areas, allowing greater privacy and faster access for people in need of less acute care; double the number of patient interview rooms; a comfortable patient lounge area; a private quiet room for families; staff training spaces; and natural light in each room of an eight-bed emergency assessment unit. This renovation is the first phase of a two-part vision to expand and consolidate emergency services at CAMH’s Queen Street location in the years ahead.

For Shanitha Kachan, a Director of the CAMH Foundation Board, and her husband, Toronto business leader Gerald Sheff, their motivation is rooted in CAMH’s vision and leadership in the ongoing transformation of mental health – and the urgency of the need.

Emergency Department infographic

“Gerry and I are so inspired by CAMH’s vision for the future. Bringing emergency services into the larger redevelopment at Queen Street and creating a safe and effective place for people in crisis is such an important part of the work that still needs to be done. We are honoured to be involved,” says Ms. Kachan, noting that Mr. Sheff has joined CAMH Foundation’s Breakthrough Campaign Cabinet to help drive philanthropic support for CAMH.

“Our government is pleased to support this important mental health initiative with a $4.2 million grant,” says Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.  “I commend CAMH staff, volunteers and donors for their commitment to improving the way Ontarians receive care when faced with mental health challenges.  By investing in CAMH, Ontario is working to transform and strengthen mental health services, helping to connect people with the care they need.”

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About CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information

About CAMH Foundation:

As the fundraising arm for Canada’s leading hospital for mental health, CAMH Foundation has been transformational in advancing CAMH’s world-leading clinical care and education, as well as its acclaimed research through the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Canada’s premiere institute for brain science. The next phase of CAMH’s ongoing renewal will blend innovative treatment centres and state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities with public green spaces, shops and residences integrated into the hospital’s 27-acre site in downtown Toronto. For more information

Media Contact:

Kate Richards
Media Relations
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416 535 8501 x36015 

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