The Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit provides short-term stabilization of highly-agitated individuals, admitted with involuntary status to mental health units throughout the province, who are exhibiting aggressive and harmful behaviour towards others on the unit.  On May 2, 2011, the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit will open as a resource to treatment teams across the province.

"Providing people who have acute mental illness with a safe and comfortable place to receive treatment, better suited to their needs, is part of our plan for Better Care Sooner," said Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald. "The province is committed to working with the district health authorities and the IWK to ensure the best mental health care services are available to people when they need them."

The Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit is located in one of the rehabilitation units at the East Coast Forensic Hospital. The Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit has six single bedrooms, a spacious dayroom with lots of natural light, and a secure patio area. The whole of East Coast Forensic Hospital is specifically designed to create a calming atmosphere. The unit is staffed by clinicians who work effectively with patients whose specific needs include addressing behaviours that pose a risk for harm to others.

“The patients admitted to this unit will benefit from increased staff-to-patient ratio, the purpose-built environment of the hospital, and our expert therapeutic treatment team,” said Dr. Scott Theriault, clinical director, Specialty Psychiatric Services, Capital Health Mental Health Program and associate professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie Medical School.

“We will work with our colleagues from across the province to create the best possible outcomes for patients and their families.”

Referrals to the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit will be made by a physician in the referring district, usually a psychiatrist, to a psychiatrist at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.