The new Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford is officially opened for those living with mental health issues. $407 million was sunk into the enhanced facility, which replaces a 100-year-old psychiatric care facility and two correctional facilities.

Director of Saskatchewan Hospital Linda Shynkaruk says everyone involved with the hospital is excited with the new facility. She believes the new hospital is more humane when caring for patients.

“Having their own rooms is a big bonus. Having to only share a bathroom with one other person instead of twenty is a huge bonus as well. I think having this home-like therapeutic environment speaks volumes to where we’re at with mental health.”

The new hospital includes 188 psychiatric rehabilitation beds and a separate secure wing with 96 beds for offenders living with mental health issues. The facility has a total of 284 beds, which is 32 more than its predecessor. The lone provincial hospital looks towards its sister facilities such as Ontario and B.C when it comes to whats classified as what are best practices.

“Really, it’s about being human and expecting for us to give the patients what you and I would expect for ourselves or our family members if they were in care. That’s what drove us to the decisions that we made, truly.”

Although patients didn’t have a choice in the hospitals planning,  Shynkaruk says surveys were done so that staff and patients could have a voice in what they prefered to be added. Patients were moved to the new facility in three stages during the month of November.

“The transition went very smoothly for the patients. Our staff worked really hard for months prior to us coming and packed everyone up so the day of the actual move all we had to do was load people in the vehicles and drive them over.”

The project is part of the provinces way to address mental health in congruence with the 10-year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. The partnership involved in the getting the facility built was between the Ministries of Health, Corrections and Policing and Central Services, along with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and SaskBuilds

“We’re moved in, not settled in completely. That’s going to take time of course, but that doesn’t negate that we’re absolutely thrilled and happy with where we’re at.”