Emergency mental healthcare in Hamilton got a boost from a half-million dollar donation to St. Joes Healthcare by the Laborers International Union of North America. In addition LIUNA VP Joe Mancinelli has donated a limited-edition giclée painting entitled “Frontline Heroes” to the Hospital. It depicts the heavy toll the pandemic has taken on the mental health of frontline workers and by showing one care-giver comforting another outside of a patient room. The painting can be seen in the lobby of the Juravinski Innovation Tower at St. Joe’s Charlton Campus
LiUNA’s new $500,000 donation will assist with a capital project designed to double the footprint of St. Joe’s Emergency Mental Health Service while also creating two separate but related care units: one for those who require urgent medical care and mental health support, but are not likely to be admitted to the Hospital; and another specifically designed to help people who are experiencing more severe mental health or addiction related concerns and who may need to be admitted to the Hospital for specialized care. It’s a $7 million project overall. The hospital foundation needs to raise $3 Million locally and hope the Ministry of Health will fund the rest. St. Joe’s is the sole provider of emergency mental healthcare in the city for anyone over the age of 17. While the unit typically cares for more than 4,000 patients each year, that number has been rising by 10 per cent each year for the past 10 years. But the greatest spike in demand has come amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Says Dr. Maxine Lewis, Joint Chief, Mental Health & Addictions at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Niagara Health. “Some are experiencing severe panic attacks due to fear and anxiety, while others are depressed from long periods of isolation or job loss and economic uncertainties. Frontline workers are experiencing PTSD from all that they have witnessed and we’re seeing a host of addiction related concerns as the data shows that substance use has escalated, too.”
Mancinelli shared that he, like many others, turned to a creative outlet to help with his own mental health amidst lockdowns during the pandemic. “Painting, for me, has always been a creative outlet to express what I am feeling that cannot accurately be portrayed in words. It is an artistic escape that allows our mind to refocus and to tell a story through art and impact the emotions of others,” he said.
In 2013, LiUNA made a $500,000 gift to help build a Seniors Mental Health Unit at the West 5th Campus.