Marion Quigley, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Sudbury/Manitoulin Branch, and Shana Calixte, Executive Director of NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, are being recognized as NE LHIN Healthy Change Champions for their work to create healthier, more inclusive and resilient communities in Sudbury and throughout the North East. In recognition of their outstanding work to both improve access to mental health services and break down barriers caused by stigma, the North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN) has awarded the two mental health leaders its Healthy Change Champion Award. The recognition awards coincided with Mental Health Week in Canada, May 6 to 12.
The North East LHIN created the Healthy Change Champion Award in 2012 to recognize outstanding work being done across the region to transform the health care system to become more integrated, easier to access, and to deliver quality care when Northerners need it.
Marion Quigley, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Sudbury/Manitoulin Branch, has been working in health care for almost four decades, including 20 years in mental health. Over the past year, she has collaborated with other community organizations including Health Sciences North and the Greater Sudbury Police Service to create a new model for Community Crisis Intervention Services.
This new program, which saw crisis services move from the hospital to a downtown location, opened in October 2012. Now operating seven days a week, it helps connect people to care either through a walk-in to its Cedar Street office or through its mobile unit, which travels to them. The CMHA has been instrumental in providing leadership to move the model forward by developing and administering training to police, as well as through the work of its patient navigator. Already this new Crisis Model is making a difference with use up by 100 per cent, thereby reducing the number of patients seeking help in the emergency department (ED) and decreasing the time spent by police in the ED.
The new Crisis Intervention service is shifting care to community and away from emergency department (ED) resulting in:
- A 12 per cent reduction in ED visits in the first three months alone for mental health (MH) visits;
- An 85 per cent increase in mobile outreach visits; and
- A 100 per cent increase in overall visits in the last five months.
The service is also training police and reducing the amount of time they spend in the ED with the result that there has been:
- An average of 8 diversions per month to community crisis rather than ED;
- A 24 per cent decrease in overall apprehensions under the Mental Health Act; and
- A savings of 60 hours per month in time spent by officers in the ED.
Services have also reduced the amount of time people have to wait to access care. Now on average, they wait 45 minutes for mobile “hand off” or community “pick-up” compared to a three-hour average wait for “transfer of custody” in the ED.
Shana is the Executive Director of NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a consumer/survivor initiative located in Sudbury, where she provides organizational leadership, as well as advocacy for mental health consumers. Witnessing the recovery of others through peer support, Shana believes in the power of mutual support to challenge as well as strengthen the mental health system and often speaks about the need to include a health equity lens into peer support work.
Working with the CMHA, NISA rolled out the Sudbury Warm Line to become a regional program serving the North East in 2011. Staffed by those with lived experience/peers with offices located in Parry Sound, North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, the Warm Line number of calls have increased from an average of 10 a night to between 20 to 40. The Regional Warm Line can serve as an alternative to crisis and emergency services, offering a support that may defuse a caller’s situation. Community agencies have begun incorporating this number into their client care plans as it provides after-hours service for people needing support. For some of its workers, the Warm Line has been a stepping stone to get back into the workforce.