Ribbon cutting for Addiction and Mental Health Center

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict, MPP Jim McDonell, Ministry of Health Parliamentary Assistant John Fraser and Acting SD&G Warden Chris McDonell cut a ribbon to officially open the Cornwall Community Hospital's Community Addiction and Mental Health Center on McConnell Avenue. The center has been open for several months. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The region’s central location for addiction and mental health care has officially opened its doors.

Dignitaries cut a blue ribbon outside the doors of the Community Addiction and Mental Health Center Friday morning.

The center has actually be open and running for a few months.

The new building at 950 McConnell Avenue combines child and youth mental health services, withdrawal management, assertive community treatment, adult counselling, mental health crisis teams and peer support, geriatric mental health services and addiction services.

During the ceremony, John Fraser, parliamentary assistant to the health minister, said Cornwall is an example of the integrated service hubs that will be created across Ontario – nine new ones are planned.

“That’s what makes this new center so special because patients are going to benefit from a new integrated center that provides addiction and mental health services to patients of all ages under one roof…reduced wait times…better access to care,” Fraser said.

SD&G Acting Warden Chris McDonell – a police officer for four decades – said he knows this center “will be appreciated and used because there’s lot of people who have problems.”

Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy spoke about the “giving of hope” the center will bring to the region. “Often people with mental illness suffer alone and in silence and hopefully through this center the benefit to the City of Cornwall, SD&G and Akwesasne proves to be a pilot project that brings much success and we look forward to, I’m sure, working in the future to contribute to make it even bigger and better,” he said.

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict said the “holistic approach” will help break down the “silos” of health care for addiction and mental health. “Many of us know that anybody that’s affected, there are cases where these two illnesses are related and they play hand in hand and one of the traditional systems we’ve always seen is providers of services is there’s always silos – addictions, mental health and health in general. I think it’s a great step forward in bringing these services under one roof…a holistic approach.”

Benedict also acknowledged the staff at the addictions and mental health center for doing the hard work and “heavy lifting…healing on the ground.”

After bringing all the acute care serves under one roof, there was “one more chapter to write” to bring community programs and services under one roof, CCH CEO Jeanette Despatie said.

The building cost $9.3 million dollars.

The crowd also heard Friday, roughly $700,000 of the $1.2 million of the community’s share has been raised to date. That includes a $250,000 commitment from the Cornwall Service Club Council.

The Ontario government put $1.7 million toward the project. The balance (roughly $6.4 million) is being paid through a mortgage with money previously allocated to leased spaces for hospital properties.

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