CKHA celebrates opening of withdrawal unit in Chatham

The Withdrawal Management Services Unit at the Chatham hospital will officially open August 8, 2022. (Submitted photo)

The Withdrawal Management Services Unit at the Chatham hospital will officially open to patients on Monday.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation (CKHAF) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to celebrate the opening of the 10-bed unit.

CKHA CEO Lori Marshall said it’s a great day for Chatham-Kent.

“Today marks a milestone for CKHA and our community with the official opening of our Withdrawal Management Service,” said Marshall. “We are so pleased to offer evidence-based addiction care and recovery for clients and their families in a modern and safe environment.”

The 10-bed facility will operate 24 hours a day, every day in the former outpatient mental health services building. CKHA’s Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic has also relocated next to the unit to offer easy access for clients and their families.

“Many of our clients are motivated to make a change and have taken one of the most difficult steps of reaching out for help. Barriers such as travel to receive care in another community can be very disheartening to experience. Since the announcement of CKHA’s Withdrawal Management Service, it’s been amazing to see the excitement and hope from our clients and their families when they hear that this service is coming to our community,” said Stephanie DeVito, Clinical Supervisor, Outpatient Mental Health and Addictions Programs, CKHA.

Marshall said the new unit will take some pressure off other departments, such as the emergency department, which gets about 500 opioid-related visits a year.

“Individuals struggling with addiction will be able to receive the best and most appropriate care. Offering this service will also reduce the pressure we are experiencing on our acute mental health inpatient program,” said Dr. Dele Oyebode, Chief of Psychiatry and Program Medical Director of Mental Health and Addictions Program, CKHA.

Withdrawal management helps individuals who struggle with substance use, including drugs, alcohol, and/or prescription medications.

The renovations cost $1.2 million.

Marshall said doctor referrals are not needed, but patients will be screened before they get admitted to a bed.

She is uncertain how much of a dent the unit will make in the on-going opioid problem in Chatham-Kent, but added it can’t hurt.

Marshall applauds the community for coming together to get the unit open so quickly. The unit was approved by the province in January.