Temporary withdrawal management facility opening on Exmouth Street

Bluewater Health President and CEO Mike Lapaine (left) and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo tour Bluewater Health’s Phase II Residential Management Site. September 2020. (Photo by Bluewater Health)

Sarnia is a step closer to securing a long-planned withdrawal management centre.

A 12-bed phase two residential facility will open at 306 Exmouth Street January 21 as an interim measure. The home-like setting will serve those in need after they transition out of Bluewater Health’s current seven-bed unit.

Bluewater Health VP of Mental Health and Addictions Paula Reaume-Zimmer said we’re seeing increased need during the pandemic.

“Demand for residential management services has exceeded the capacity for our current seven withdrawal management beds,” said Reaume-Zimmer. “In December alone, 93 individuals were declined withdrawal management services because we had no space. This is just such a welcome addition and it triples the number of beds that we’ll have available.”

Reaume-Zimmer said it’s still an interim model, as we await a permanent addiction centre that includes a 24-bed withdrawal management facility.

She’s hopeful the new beds will reduce the chances of recidivism.

Laurie Hicks lost her son Ryan to Fentanyl addiction in 2015, and has been advocating for improved services.

306 Exmouth Street (photo via Google Maps)

306 Exmouth Street (photo via Google Maps)

“This is an incredible day for me and my family and all of the other families and people struggling in Lambton county. It opens the door for hope and it closes a gap of service that we were missing.”

Ontario Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo made the announcement Tuesday during a virtual Zoom call.

“By working closely with our partners, including Bluewater Health, our government will continue fulfilling our commitment to creating a mental health and addictions system where every Ontarian is fully supported in their journey towards mental wellness,” said Tibollo. “I’ve toured the facility, and I felt very comfortable walking in there. It’s very welcoming which is something that you need when you’re dealing with a lot of the underlying issues of mental health and how they impact on addiction. I was really pleased to see how the property is laid out and the facility preparation.”

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley welcomed the news.

“It’s going to have a remarkable impact on the lives of people who need these services,” said Bradley. “People fall down, sometimes they fall down twice, or three or six times and they need that opportunity. They didn’t have that opportunity that they needed in the community, so it’s much appreciated.”

Clients wishing to access Residential Withdrawal Management Services can call 519-464-4487 to learn more.