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Health care workers at the St. Paul's Hospital Road to Recovery Unit
Mental Health + Substance Use

What is Road to Recovery at St. Paul’s Hospital?

by St. Paul's Foundation


A cherished father, son, brother, and addictions counsellor, Steven Diamond was killed by fentanyl in 2016. To honour his life and legacy, the Diamond family recently announced a massive $20 million donation to fund the development of the brand-new Road to Recovery at St. Paul’s Hospital, a ‘first-in-Canada’ model of treatment that could transform addiction care across the country.

We’re speaking out today for the first time because we want to save other lives,” says Jill Diamond, Steven’s sister and executive director of the Diamond Foundation. “No matter where we turned, we never found the help that Steven needed. If he had access to the care now being developed at St. Paul’s Hospital with this new initiative, he might still be with us here today.”

Building on the momentum from the Diamond Foundation, the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation recently announced a $9 million gift to Road to Recovery.

What is Road to Recovery and why is it important?

One of the key factors driving substance use-related harm in BC is the lack of a seamless system of care to support people with addiction.

Gaps failing to connect prevention, treatment, and recovery mean that people are unable to access the support they need, when and where they need them. Road to Recovery is an innovative approach to substance use, providing the full continuum of services for patients and families that aims to fill these gaps.

This model of care will cut weeks of waitlists and support patients to move seamlessly through a full spectrum of treatment services, from the Rapid Access Addiction Clinic through withdrawal management, in-patient recovery-focused beds, transitional housing, outpatient treatment, and more—all in one location.

A graph explain what is road to recovery at St. Paul's Hospital
The new model of care at St. Paul’s Hospital will cut wait times and provide seamless transitions in one location.

“Road to Recovery began as a vision for a full continuum of substance use care within a single setting at St. Paul’s Hospital, so that people can access the evidence-based addiction care they need, when they need it. Addiction medicine clinicians, like myself, know that being able to refer someone to the appropriate service and then provide follow-up care is integral to supporting their wellness, but is rarely an option,” says Dr. Seonaid Nolan, physician program director for Providence Health Care’s Addiction Program and clinician scientist with the BC Centre on Substance Use.

When will the Road to Recovery be up and running?

Road to Recovery will be developed in phases and include new acute stabilization beds, withdrawal management beds, and short-term stay beds.

The initiative will eventually house 100 beds, the first of which, focused on stabilization, will open in fall of 2023 at St. Paul’s Hospital. It will then be transitioned to the state-of-the-art new St. Paul’s Hospital on the Jim Pattison Medical Campus when it opens in 2027.

Additional funding for Road to Recovery

“This donation demonstrates the power of philanthropy to drive systemic change,” says Dick Vollet, president and CEO of St. Paul’s Foundation. “Despite the most difficult circumstances, the Diamond family is bravely stepping forward to help fix a broken system—and giving families hope there is a path to recovery.”

With the Diamond Foundation’s gift in place, the provincial government has committed $60.9 million toward operating costs. Further, its hope is that the Diamond’s act of philanthropy inspires the public to donate as well.

Driven by a commitment to transform lives, the Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation has answered an appeal with a $9 million gift to Road to Recovery. The urgency of Road to Recovery struck a chord with Bernard Pinsky, chair of the Foundation’s board and one of its founding directors, noting that “we see it as our duty as citizens to try to help solve the increasing rates of substance use, which is one of the worst crises facing our community in terms of the number of deaths and the heavy impact on families.”

“The Road to Recovery will close gaps that currently stand between people in crisis and the care they deserve,” says Fiona Dalton, President and CEO, Providence Health Care. “It is crucial for the one in six people at St. Paul’s Hospital who experience substance use disorder. Providence Health Care is so grateful to the Diamond Foundation and Ronald S. Roadburg Foundation for their generous gifts. And we’re grateful to the provincial government and our health care partners for investing in and supporting this important initiative.”

For people in crisis, accessing the right care when they need it can be extremely challenging. So, we meet our patients where they are – at St. Paul’s and in the community. We ensure they feel welcomed with culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed care. And we support them in their journey of recovery.