Children's Hospital mental health beds closed to voluntary admissions

Demand for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario's (CHEO's) 19 psychiatric-care beds has been so great that the hospital has been closed to voluntary admissions; the eight beds for teens at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre are also full, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

"We're running out of places where we can put these patients," said Dr. Simon Davidson, CHEO's chief psychiatrist, who's also chief of the Royal Ottawa's specialized services for children and youth.

He pointed to the bed shortage as a symptom of the province's chronically underfunded mental-health services, which quickly come under strain when demand surges.  "When we experience an increased demand like we're having now, we are very close to having serious difficulties coping."

Davidson said it's too soon to say how much longer non-urgent patients could be expected to wait.

CHEO officials are nervously eyeing the months ahead out of fear the winter flu season could add to the crush of children and teens showing up at the emergency room, creating additional pressures on beds and staff.


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