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The Centennial Centre provides care second to none

Occupational therapy is one of many programs and services offered at The Centennial Centre that encompass a wide range of mental health needs.

By Treena Mielke

A 100-year anniversary is no small accomplishment and definitely just cause for celebration.

From July 29 to 31, The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury in Ponoka will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a staff reunion that will include a tour of the hospital, a dinner and a dance.

“We have about 160 formally registered,” said Dwight Hunks, executive director of addiction and mental health for the central zone of Alberta Health Services.

Representatives from Alberta Health Services and government dignitaries will attend, as well as current and former staff and patients.

Hunks said the centre has developed into a “state of the art” hospital and the support services and direct patient care are second to none.

“The main driver has been a lot of very dedicated and committed staff,” he said.

Hunks said The Centennial Centre has approximately 1,500 admissions yearly.

The multidisciplinary psychiatric centre has 20 physicians and psychiatrists on staff and more than 200 RNs, LPNs and psychiatric nurses. It also is a site for a psychiatric nursing program in partnership with Grant MacEwan University.

Hunks said the programs and services offered encompass a wide range of mental health needs.

One such rehabilitation program is carried out at The Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury.

The program here is set up to include people between the ages of 16 and 65 with a moderate to severe non-progressive acquired brain injury, which could have occurred as a result of a stroke or aneurysm.

Swallowing and meal management, and spasticity management are among the specialty services offered at The Halvar Jonson Centre.

An emphasis is placed on early discharge planning such as supported weekend leaves to ensure a smooth transition back home.

Several programs are offered through The Centennial Centre in an effort to best meet the mental health need of seniors.

Seniors outreach nurses see clients who do not require high levels of intervention in their own homes or in various levels of supportive housing or in general hospitals.

The outreach nurse works closely with the senior patient; their relatives and their family physician to ensure any mental health concerns are identified and dealt with.

Seniors in need of acute services are admitted to an inpatient unit in the hospital where they are assessed, treated and stabilized.

A psychosocial rehabilitation and enrichment program has also been developed to assist elderly persons with complex mental health needs. Patients in this program are encouraged to be involved as much as possible in their own treatment, in decision-making and goal setting.

An adult inpatient program helps people between the ages of 18 and 64 who have severe, persistent and complex symptoms of mental illness. Services include stabilization of acute symptoms of mental illness and long-term treatment and rehabilitation.

As a further step to assisting adults in this program, patients are supported after discharge with appropriate community linkages such as Community Mental Health Services, Addiction and Mental Health, medical and mental health follow-up.

Psychosocial rehabilitation services helps patients in their recovery by teaching functional and coping skills necessary to live in environments outside of the hospital.

Telepsychiatry is another cutting edge program in which a program psychiatrist will interview patients and their family members at the Telehealth site in or near their home community. The program psychiatrist follows up with a consultative letter to the referring physician.

Hunks is especially proud of a program that deals with addictions and mental illness issues simultaneously.

The program was introduced at The Centennial Centre two years ago. The program, which is 22 days in duration, has had positive results.

“The evaluations have been excellent so far. And there has been a high satisfaction rate among those who attended.”

Hunks said the program emphasizes the primary objective of The Centennial Centre.

“We want to return people successfully to the community. The majority of patients are here for a short

period of time and then return successfully back to their home.”