Grey Bruce Health Services has confirmed the former Bayview Public School as the site of its new wellness and treatment centre, with construction on the project to begin shortly.
Renovations at the treatment centre, which will support individuals with addictions and mental health issues, are expected to take about a year, GBHS announced on Monday.
In a news release, it said GBHS has seen a 70 per cent increase in the past six years of opioid-related hospitalizations, and Emergency Department visits related to opioid use have tripled.
“Hospitals are not well-suited to the types of care and treatment required by individuals with addiction,” GBHS President and CEO Gary Sims said in the release. “We are excited to open a purpose-built centre, with the right environment, staffing and services under one roof to ensure the best outcomes for clients.”
Earlier this year, Ontario Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo announced the approval of 36 new beds and $6 million for GBHS to expand mental health and addiction treatment, ultimately to be delivered at the new treatment centre. At that time Sims was not yet able to confirm where the new centre would be located. In late 2021, Owen Sound city council heard from GBHS staff during a presentation that the former school would be leased for the new treatment centre.
“Our government’s goal is to make sure Ontarians get treatment and supports where and when they need it,” Tibollo said in Monday’s release from GBHS. “Our investment here will be critical in making that a reality for the communities who receive care from Grey Bruce Health Services.”
The existing nine-bed Withdrawal Management Services building on 9th Avenue East in Owen Sound was unable to accommodate such an extensive expansion and GBHS had been looking for a new location. All services from the 9th Avenue East location will be consolidated into the new building, the release said.
“The wellness centre will provide a safe environment for men and women in need of additional and extended support for their recovery journey,” the news release said. “These individuals often struggle with homelessness, unemployment, isolation and access to healthcare.”
The project is the first of its kind in the area and will have the capacity to accommodate inpatient and outpatient services, the release said.
Those coming to the centre will be able to start in a withdrawal management program and graduate into relapse prevention therapy. Longer-term treatment and supported living units will also be offered at the site.
The centre is to include space for Indigenous healing, spiritual care, recreational therapy for group activities and community partner space, the release said.
Community agencies are also interested in working with GBHS to support clients with education and and vocational opportunities in the centre, and with further funding secured, plans are to add a teaching kitchen and greenhouse to provide life-skills training, the release said.