Saskatoon's Lighthouse expands service to prevent emergency visits

CBC News, Feb 18, 2015 - Lighthouse Supported Living is expanding its services for a six month pilot project to help prevent unnecessary stress on Saskatoon's emergency services.

The Lighthouse is an organization that provides emergency shelter, supported living, and affordable housing to those in need in the city.

The project is an initiative of the Saskatoon Health Region, MD Ambulance and the Lighthouse to provide better care for some of the most at-risk people in the city.

"That population who is living in extreme poverty as well as suffering from addictions, mental health issues, cognitive difficulties, brain injuries, all those sorts of things will be able to get resources before it becomes an emergency situation," Mercier said.

It's also an attempt to alleviate the stress on the Health Region's emergency services, which have been increasing by five per cent year after year.

As a part of the pilot project, the Lighthouse will:

  • Expand their stabilization unit for those under the influence of drugs and alcohol from 16 hours to 24 hours a day.
  • Expand the mobile outreach unit from six to 16 hours a day for people needing to get to the Lighthouse or other services.
  • Nearly double the number of beds for clients with complex mental health needs and provide 24 hour care for them.
  • A paramedic will be on site seven days a week, 12 hours a day.
  • And a nurse practitioner and an addictions counsellor will work on site half-time.

Mercier told CBC News that she has high hopes for this project. She hopes that after six months, Lighthouse will have sufficient evidence to continue the project long-term.

Lighthouse aims to complete the expansion by March 15.

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