The regional child and youth mental health program at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) got a welcomed financial shot in the arm Thursday morning.
Barrie hospital officials received a giant cheque — both literally and figuratively — from Simcoe County representatives as part of the county’s 15-year, $45-million commitment to area hospitals in the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance.
RVH received more than $1.7 million, part of the latest installment totalling $5.6 million being doled out to the the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance this fall.
The alliance is made up of hospitals in Simcoe County and Newmarket that care for county residents, and was created in 2002 to advise the County of Simcoe of ongoing hospital capital needs and ensure equitable distribution of the county’s health-care funding.
“Health care remains the No. 1 priority for Canadians, and nothing is more important than our children. Being able to provide the child and youth mental health services as close to home as possible has always been important, but we’ve really seen the difference during this pandemic when everyone has been really struggling with the inability to be social, be at school and to do things that are part of our normal life,” RVH president and chief executive officer Janice Skot said following the presentation.
“The County of Simcoe’s opportunity to be a part of this program has meant so much to us," she added. "We couldn’t be doing what we are doing at RVH if we didn’t have municipal support, including the County of Simcoe.”
RVH’s regional child and youth mental health program includes an eight-bed inpatient unit and comprehensive day program, as well as high school classes for teenagers struggling to cope in a traditional school setting due to a mental health crisis.
Since opening in December 2017, RVH has cared for nearly 4,000 child and youth mental health patients.
The county, noted Deputy Warden and Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin, is “pleased and blessed” to be able to support all of the hospitals in the region.
“We want complete communities and we want quality of life for our residents, and certainly health care close to home is so important as part of that equation," Dollin said. "We are so happy to support RVH and all of the hospital’s in our region.”
The impact of providing health care close to home, particularly for younger children, will be a significant one, added Oro-Medonte Township Mayor Harry Hughes, who is also a county councillor. He said it means families won’t have to drive long distances and incur the extra expenses associated with having to seek help out of their own communities.
“That’s why the county didn’t flinch when it came to giving money to the hospitals to make sure we were fair right across the county," Hughes said.
Since 1994, the county has committed $107 million to improve local hospital care and specialized services, including cancer and cardiac care, emergency services, dialysis, mental health care, neonatal care and imaging technology. The county contributed $20 million to RVH’s 2012 expansion which doubled the size of the health centre, including a regional cancer centre.