Chief Constable Adam Palmer; Jennifer Duff, Regional Director and Health Care Leader for Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health; and Dick Vollet, President and CEO of St. Paul's Foundation.

A HUB of Innovation

Promise Magazine: Spring/Summer 2017

By Ariane Fleischmann

It takes a network of committed donors and community partners to realize an innovative model set to transform emergency access, treatment and follow up for mental health and substance use patients

Every year, St. Paul’s Teck Emergency Centre sees more than 10,500 patients with mental health and substance use issues – the highest number of any Emergency Department (ED) in BC.

In some cases, police escort the person in need of emergency care, which means officers must wait with them until they see a doctor. On average, this takes 75 minutes.

In 2015, to help alleviate the mental health and substance use crisis and reduce these wait times, the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Police Foundation approached St. Paul’s with an idea and an anonymous donation of $750,000. Jennifer Duff, then-director of the mental health program at Providence Health Care and Dr. Bill MacEwan, then-director of psychiatry at St. Paul’s, set about examining the issues and possible solutions.

With limited options, including lack of space and the future move to a new hospital site, Duff and MacEwan brought in more partners to come up with a unique and innovative solution.

To raise the $3.5 million in capital costs required for the project – to be named the HUB – St. Paul’s Foundation has committed to raising $1.75 million to match the initial anonymous gift of $750,000 and $1 million in funding provided by the City of Vancouver.

The new St. Paul’s Office of Innovation also stepped up to help during this crucial time. Together, in fall 2016, they came up with a solution that would unite emergency care, rapid access to treatment and a transition centre, to provide better and faster care for this vulnerable population.

The HUB will consist of three parts:

Clinical HUB, for depiction purposes only. Image credit: Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd.

1. Housed in a custom, redeployable modular unit connected to the ED, the clinical HUB will be a state-of-the-art clinical treatment area staffed by nurses and physicians with special training in mental health, substance use and emergency care.

2. The Rapid Access Addiction Clinic (RAAC) is located on the second floor of the hospital. There, substance use patients are assessed and started on appropriate treatment within 24 to 48 hours after referral.

3. The Vancouver Police Foundation Transitional Care Centre adjacent to the ED, where discharged patients can decompress, prepare to transition back to the community and get help connecting to vital services.

“It can be a shaming experience to access care,” says Scott Harrison, director for strategy and transformation, urban health, mental health and substance use at St. Paul’s. “The HUB will allow people to be triaged to an environment that is much more therapeutic – one that promotes dignity,” he says. Through the HUB and future care models, the Office of Innovation will continue to enable ways to improve both the quality of care and health outcomes for patients.

“We’ll have changed the way we provide care and transition this population forever,” says Duff of the HUB model. To do it in under a year is a feat of modern health, one that would not be possible without the partnerships and innovation pathways that St. Paul’s fosters.

Who is helping to make the HUB a reality?

-Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Police Foundation
-Providence Health Care
-Vancouver Coastal Health
-City of Vancouver
-St. Paul’s Foundation
-PHC Office of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships
-Ministry of Health
-Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd.
-Streetohome Foundation

How will the HUB help?

-The HUB will care for an estimated 6,000 patients each year;
-Provide a more integrated care model between acute and community services;
-Reduce readmission rates to the ED;
-Reduce police wait/handover times to a 20-minute average.

Be a part of bringing this transformational care model to our community. Donate now at

St. Paul's Foundation