New Mental Health Unit at Ajax Pickering Hospital Opens

Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

The 22-bed unit brings vital mental health care close to home in West Durham

Ajax – Today, Lakeridge Health joined with leaders and community members from Durham Region to celebrate the official opening of the new 22-bed Mental Health Unit at Ajax Pickering Hospital. Durham Region’s new Mental Health Unit will begin admitting patients on January 21.

Sharon Cochran, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Lakeridge Health were joined by the Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, other dignitaries and community partners to mark an important milestone for heath care in Durham Region.

“These new mental health beds will enable people in West Durham to receive immediate, specialized inpatient mental health care, in their own community,” said Sharon Cochran, Chair, Board of Trustees, Lakeridge Health.  “This expansion of mental health services meets a crucial need today and gives Lakeridge Health the capacity to meet our population’s needs tomorrow.”

Over the last decade, the number of Durham residents admitted to Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital for acute mental health care has increased by 50 per cent. With the region’s population set to more than double in the next 20 years, the need for mental health services will continue to rise. The addition of new mental health beds at Ajax Pickering Hospital is critical for our regional system of care as it provides more options to people with mental health conditions across Durham Region.

“The grand opening of these new mental health beds will help ensure that patients in Durham Region are able to receive the high-quality care they need close to home,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Innovative models of care like this, designed to ensure a healing, safe and welcoming environment for patients will help improve access to mental health care and reduce wait times.”

“This new Mental Health Unit and Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit will make a positive impact in the lives of many and will help manage the growing demand for mental health supports in our community,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and MPP for Ajax.

“This investment will directly support the residents of Pickering and Durham Region, addressing the issue of mental health in our community,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge. “Our government is focused on improving access to frontline health care supports by increasing capacity to better service citizens.”

This modern space is specially designed for people who need 24/7 acute mental health care to support their recovery. Patients and their families will be supported by a team of approximately 50 highly skilled professionals from different disciplines and six psychiatrists. The unit will have the capacity to admit 600 people each year, offering them the latest standard of patient-centred mental health care. 

The unit includes:

  • Individual rooms with ensuite washrooms to enhance patient privacy;
  • Chalk board walls in patient rooms that support communication between the patient and their care team;
  • A comfortable and quiet visitor’s room for patients and their loved ones;
  • Special design features that provide a safe environment for everyone; and
  • A light-filled common dining area to allow people to enjoy a meal with others.

“We cannot treat mental and physical health separately,” said Dr. Neeraj Bajaj, Chief of Psychiatry and Medical Director of Mental Health. “The ability for families to see their loved ones being treated close to their homes will make a big difference in the lives of so many. The new Mental Health Unit at Ajax Pickering Hospital is a wonderful addition to the range of services that Lakeridge Health already offers.”

"In the days, weeks, months, years, and decades to come, many people in the Durham Region - our grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbours, colleagues - will come here to heal from the devastation mental suffering brings to their lives,” said  Percy D’Souza, Patient Advisor, Mental Health and Pinewood Centre Patient and Family Advisory Committee. “The care they will get here will give people a decent, precious chance at putting their lives back together, and maybe even building a better life."

Watch Percy's story here.

Percy's Story

About Lakeridge Health

Lakeridge Health is Durham Region’s acute health care provider. With five hospitals, four emergency departments, a residential treatment centre and more than a dozen community health care locations, Lakeridge Health is working to provide the best experience for patients and their families. Home to the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre and Pinewood Centre, Lakeridge Health also provides regional mental health, eye care and nephrology services.

With a committed and dedicated team of more than 5,400 employees, more than 760 physicians and more than 1,600 volunteers, Lakeridge Health provides care to the more than 650,000 people living and working in Durham Region.


For more information:
Sharon Navarro
Lakeridge Health