THE ROYAL: TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERSHIP TO MEET PATIENT AND COMMUNITY NEEDS
The Royal Mental Health Centre has developed a brand new strategic plan for transformative change to meet the growing demand for mental health services in the community, a need greatly accelerated by the devastating global pandemic. And, for the first time in Ottawa’s history, this monumental health care shift is being spearheaded by two women.
In their own right, Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer of The Royal and Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees, are pioneers. While both leaders were used to forging new paths, they could never have predicted the complex terrain when overwhelming mental health need and a global pandemic converged at the same moment as they set out to lead one of the most significant strategic planning initiatives in The Royal’s history.
“This new strategy marks a new era in care and research at The Royal, a vision of a hospital without walls, transforming how specialized care and world class research is accessed and experienced in our community,” says Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees, who credits president and chief executive officer Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz and her team with articulating a vision to respond to a rapidly different world.
The planning and implementation details for The Royal’s new strategic plan had just begun in March 2020 when the first wave of COVID-19 heralded lockdowns. “The pandemic became a significant force driving change and accelerated the need for our new strategy to find ways to enhance access and bring services that would otherwise be provided in a hospital setting closer to where clients and family members live,” says Dr. Bezzubetz.
Bezzubetz’s team, leveraging the power of Zoom, engaged clients, family members, Board members, physicians, clinicians, scientists and volunteers to build a roadmap for the future that would challenge the status quo and push The Royal to new heights. The conversations that arose from these meetings quickly defined the cornerstone of the plan: lived expertise.
“Clients live with their conditions every day and it is important for us to see clients and family members as active and respected members of their own care team. This became a key driver in co-creating care, research and education with clients and families as partners. Working together, we can foster hope and enhance recovery,”
says Dr. Bezzubetz.
Another important theme that emerged in The Royal’s transformative new strategy included integrating future care with leading-edge science and research and advancing specialty mental health care.
“As an academic health science centre, we can bring research and care closer together so that when people come to The Royal, they know that they are not only receiving evidence-based care but contributing to research that may unlock new understanding in the brain and new treatments.
Our clinicians, physicians and scientists are passionate individuals who take strides every day to improve the quality of life for people with mental health and substance use and inspire hope,” says Dr. Bezzubetz.
The Royal also wants to affirm leadership and collaboration in addressing issues that clients and families experience in the community: stigma and marginalization. “We want to become a beacon of change and work with partners for systemic equity in the mental health system and tackle stigma through science,” adds Graham.
Prompt Care Clinic Established
Realizing that the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns was having a highly negative impact on mental health, The Royal opened a new mental health clinic, originally intended to be temporary, named ‘C-PROMPT.’
“As we were going through the early days of the pandemic we realized there was going to be increased demand for mental health services. We very quickly created a service that would be available for prompt access,” says Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer.
Approximately 800 people were seen over the first three months of the pandemic’s first wave, resulting in very positive feedback. The information obtained from that clinic was also eye opening, including the fact that 54 per cent of patients had never before received mental health care.
“Knowing that more than half the people we were seeing had never been part of the system before was an alarm. It gave us an indication of what the growth would be in terms of clients coming forward. That really grabbed our attention,” says Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees.
The C-PROMPT Clinic has now become a permanent clinic, called the ‘Prompt Care Clinic.’
You can learn more at www.theroyal.ca/PROMPT.