$130 million mental health and addictions rehab hub opens at Riverview Hospital

Nov 3 2021, 10:27 pm

Newly completed modern mental health and addictions treatment facilities at the northern end of the sprawling former Riverview Hospital site in Coquitlam greatly contrast with the historic institutional facilities the site is known for.

The provincial government recently completed and opened the Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at 2745 Lougheed Highway, which provides 105 beds for treating mental illness and addictions simultaneously — the first of its kind in North America.

However, the facility only represents a net gain of 11 beds, as it largely serves as a replacement of the outdated Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

The modernized facilities include green spaces, natural light, private rooms for patients, and therapeutic staff. The combined features and programs offered by the Red Fish Healing Centre are intended to allow patients to gradually transition to care in their communities.

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Additionally, the facility includes research, education, and teaching spaces, as well as virtual health technologies and infrastructure for virtual support to off-site patients and allowing patients to connect with family and other support services.

“There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment model,” said Lynn Pelletier, vice president of BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, in a statement.

“The Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction is leading change by treating the whole person, providing care for mental health and substance-use issues simultaneously, and drawing on the most current research evidence and person-centred care models available.”

The local Kwikwetlem First Nation also made contributions to the facility’s design, such a Indigenous murals and art in the interior spaces, the incorporation of a room for spiritual healing activities, and the erection of a “House Post” — the first to be raised in their traditional lands in over a century, carved from a 600-year-old tree.

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

“For too long, treatment and supportive recovery services were neglected in BC, and many people have struggled to get the care they needed,” said Selina Robinson, BC NDP MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville.

“I’m grateful that this first-of-its-kind healing centre in North America will offer trauma-informed and culturally safe care to the people of Coquitlam and all of British Columbia. This is an important milestone in our goal to transform mental health and substance use care in BC.”

The project was initiated by the previous provincial government led by the BC Liberals. When construction began in late 2017, it was originally projected to cost $101 million and reach completion in 2019. The total cost for the provincial government is now $130 million.

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction 2745 Lougheed Highway Coquitlam Riverview Hospital

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction at the former Riverview Hospital lands at 2745 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam. (Provincial Health Services Authority)

Riverview Hospital’s first facilities first opened in the early 1900s, and at its peak it housed thousands of individuals with mental illness. It began to see downsizing in the 1980s, when the provincial government at the time shifted towards bringing the patients back into their own communities assisted by support services and networks, and the phased closure of Riverview Hospital. In 1998, after most of the patients were already relocated to regional care, the provincial government announced plans to proceed with the full closure of the facility.

Over the past three decades, without proper funding and supports for regional and community care, this strategy has received some criticism for escalating mental health, drug addiction, and homelessness issues in the region, especially in the Downtown Eastside.

In March 2021, the provincial government announced it was in the process of restarting the planning process for the future redevelopment of the former Riverview Hospital site, which spans 244 acres. Much of it is undeveloped, with the remaining historic institutional buildings located near the core of the site, now formally named as Sumiqwuelu.

Riverview Hospital entailed about 75 buildings, with a combined total floor area of 1.65 million sq ft. As well, there are extensive green spaces, natural areas, ravines, and watercourses.

For its future, a mix of new and expanded healthcare-related facilities, market and below-market residential uses, and potentially commercial development is a possibility. The provincial government also intends to create a plan that generates revenue for the Kwikwetlem First Nation.

riverview hospital sumiqwuelu

Riverview Hospital (Sumiqwuelu) in Coquitlam. (BC Housing)

riverview hospital sumiqwuelu

Riverview Hospital (Sumiqwuelu) in Coquitlam. (BC Housing)

The old Riverview Hospital psychiatric treatment buildings. (Government of BC)

The old Riverview Hospital psychiatric treatment buildings. (Government of BC)

Vancouver Coastal Health has also seen the approval of its plans to construct a new drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre at 1636 Clark Drive and 132-1395 East 1st Avenue in the Vancouver Eastside. It will have a 49,000 sq ft overdose clinic, including outpatient and inpatient services, as well as 20 short-term housing units for individuals who have finished detox. The upper levels of the building would also entail 90 social housing units.

In Summer 2020, the new Mental Health and Substance Use Wellness Centre building at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster opened at a cost of $259 million. The 393,000 sq ft treatment centre contains 75 inpatient psychiatric beds — a net gain of 45 beds from the hospital campus’ previous Sherbrooke building.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

+ News
+ Development
+ Urbanized
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT