Opinion: A collective approach to mental health (St. Paul’s Hospital)

A couple of months ago I found myself spending a long sleepless night on a gurney in the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency room.

To my right was a fellow police found drunk and passed out in an alley. Beyond him and howling was a woman brought in by ambulance after she was retrieved from a McDonald’s where she was writhing about on the floor and refusing to get up. An addict they thought.

To my left was a woman who, according to her husband, suffered from both Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. A few spots further down was a man being held down on his gurney by restraints applied by three security guards.

And round about us, nurses, technicians and doctors calmly ministered to us all with equal care and attention.

In other words it was a typical evening at St. Paul’s ER, which has as its catchment area the West End and the Downtown Eastside.

Allen Garr reports

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