Photo courtesy Province of BC.

A new era for mental health and substance use treatment

On March 28, Health Minister Terry Lake, VCH Board Chair Kip Woodward, Joseph and Rosalie Segal, VGH-UBC Hospital Foundation representatives and other guests celebrated the substantial completion of the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre. The new eight-story Centre will enable staff to provide exemplary care for people with mental health and/or substance use challenges on the VGH campus.

“We are in the home stretch for the opening of the new Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre, which will help mental health and substance use professionals provide better care to patients and their families in a more modern environment,” said Minister Lake. “The Segal family has been extremely generous and tireless champions for this project and their contributions will have a positive impact on the lives of British Columbians facing mental health or substance use concerns.”

With 100 private rooms, the Centre will be the largest purpose-built facility of its kind in the province for people with mental health and substance use issues. It is also the future home for VCH Vancouver’s Access and Assessment Centre (AAC), which opened in April 2016 at the VGH Health Centre and will be moved into the new Segal Centre when it opens in fall 2017.

The Centre is made possible with a generous $12M gift from philanthropists Joseph and Rosalie Segal, combined with $13 million from VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and $57 million from the provincial government.

“Mental Health problems are far more prevalent than most of us realize,” said Joseph Segal. “The cure is not easy. Compassion and understanding is so vital in the cure. I believe that this building that we are dedicating will be a step to understanding tolerance and a cure.”

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Photos courtesy Province of BC

Help reduce stigma

Dr. Thea Gilks, a medical resident who will work in the new Centre next year, says she wishes this facility was around when her brother committed suicide close to four years ago.

Thea Gilks

“I think this new building sends the strong message that mental illness is something we need to pay attention to, treat seriously and put adequate funding into,” she says. “I’m excited they’re opening a modern facility that will offer so much to people who need it.”

She hopes that this building will represent a cultural shift towards greater acceptance of those with mental health challenges.

“Trevor had so much shame about the things he struggled with,” she says. “This shame prevented him from seeking help and made his life so unbearable. I hope this building might help people to know that it’s ok to talk about these things.”

The future of mental health care

The building will consolidate inpatient and outpatient services under one roof to provide clients with the treatment, programs and skills they need to successfully resume life in the community. It will replace outdated facilities such as the former VGH Willow Chest Centre (built in 1948) and Health Centre at VGH (circa 1943).

“This new facility is vitally important to mental health patients and their families,” said VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation president and CEO Barbara Grantham at the event. “We are grateful for the commitment from the provincial government and for the contributions from our donors.”


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