New NYGH program provides youth and adults with the right mental health care, sooner

March 1, 2024
Purple Zone opening

Toronto (February 29, 2024) – NYGH is opening a new Mental Health Emergency Services Unit on March 5 designed to provide timely access to comprehensive care for people experiencing a mental health emergency.

“Our goal is for everyone in our community to have access to the best standard of mental health and addictions care at every life stage,” says Dr. Everton Gooden, President and CEO of NYGH. “With the advice of our patients, caregivers and frontline teams, and generous support from donors, we have created a space in our ED that is dedicated to people experiencing a mental health emergency. Every detail has been carefully selected to promote safety, privacy and comfort for the individual and for their families and caregivers.”

This special zone in the hospital’s Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency includes individual treatment rooms, carefully selected furniture, colours and other features which create a calming and healing environment for patients.

“Our tremendous community came together to support our Emergency Department campaign, and we are so grateful. More than 6,000 donors raised $11 million towards this vital space, and thousands of patients and families will benefit as a result,” says Seanna Millar, President and CEO of NYGH Foundation. “Today, we are excited to unveil the final phase of renovations, our new Purple Zone. This project exemplifies the power of philanthropy, which has been the driving force behind so many improvements across the hospital and will continue to define our future.”

From the start of their visit, patients will receive medical and mental health care at the same time from a multi-professional team of emergency physicians, mental health nurses, peer support and child and youth workers and case managers who work closely with community agencies that help youth and adults with mental health and substance use.

“Patients presenting with a mental health crisis deserve high-quality and timely care in our emergency department,” says Dr. Kevin Wasko, Chief of Emergency Medicine and Program Medical Director at NYGH. “In this new space, we will be able to streamline care so that patients are seen by our specialty teams sooner.”

In addition to setting a new standard of excellence in emergency mental health and addictions care, patients will be supported by a new partnership between NYGH and three community agencies – Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, Addictions Services Central Ontario and COTA Health. The Purple Zone team will work with community partners to safely discharge and support each patient with personalized wrap-around services in their communities. NYGH case managers will go to where patients are in the community to help them with ongoing recovery including accessing housing and other services.

“Our expert team will collaborate with patients and often with their families and caregivers on a discharge plan tailored to the individual’s unique needs,” says Sandy Marangos, Director of the Mental Health Program at NYGH. “This approach will better support the recovery journeys of youth and adults with mental health and substance use challenges while reducing the need to return to the ED.”

Later this year, NYGH researchers and clinical teams will begin developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that will help the care team to match patients with community resources that will meet their individual needs.

North York General Hospital
NYGH is a top-ranked academic community hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto that provides high-quality acute, ambulatory, and long-term care to approximately half a million people across seven sites in Toronto. With one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the Greater Toronto Area, NYGH has been named Canada’s number one community hospital by Newsweek Magazine and one of Canada’s best employers by Forbes among other national and international recognitions earned by NYGH physicians, nurses and health care teams for high performance and quality of care.