On November 28, the psychiatric care team at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) welcomed, for the first time, two recruits from the Montreal police force (SPVM), familiarizing them with the reality of patients with mental health issues. A full-day immersion program took the two officers through the Medical and Psychiatric Emergency Departments (ED), into hospitalization units, and they also participated in various team meetings, all to gain a better understanding of the patient trajectory. The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a proud partner of the Programme d’intégration à la fonction policière - Immersion MTL - of the SPVM.
“This is a first for us,” says Colleen Timm, MUHC Director of Multidisciplinary Services (adult side). “We're delighted to offer our expertise to new SPVM officers and we welcome this immersion initiative. We work closely with police officers on a regular basis, so it's important to show them what happens when patients arrive in the ED.”
A better understanding of patient reality
The schedule was carefully put together by Benoît Cousineau, Associate Director of Emergency and Mental Health at the MUHC, multidisciplinary services and the management team.
The morning began with a visit to the MGH ED, which was at 200 % capacity that day. Simon Roy, ED head nurse, explained that a lack of space resulted in the waiting room being converted into an area for patients on stretchers. This experience enabled the two recruits to see for themselves the tremendous impact that an overcapacity ED has on patients.
The head nurse continued his guided tour, stopping near the ambulance entrance at the rear of the ED, which is very close to the reanimation rooms, where the seriously injured are taken to be stabilized. “In a very short amount of time, the OR can be up and running to perform surgery on patients who’ve been involved in a road accident or a workplace accident, for example, or on patients who’ve been victims of a violent crime such as a gunshot or stab wound,” Simon explains. “As always, we maintain patient confidentiality.”
Liaison nurse Joanna Priestley then took the two officers under her wing. She walked them through the corridors of the Psychiatric Emergency Department and the Brief Intervention Unit, for patients in crisis. She answered questions about preventive legal custody, the court process, and the importance of having the police present when transferring an agitated patient. There were many topics to discuss!
The two officers then attended the daily psychiatric emergency meeting, during which the care team evaluated the possibility of discharging certain patients. The head of the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Karine Igartua, as well as the head of the Emergency Psychiatry Department, Dr. Richard Montoro, accompanied by Joanna Priestley, reviewed various issues that patients were dealing with.
More meetings were held in the afternoon. It was an enriching experience for both the nursing staff and for the officers, who are starting their careers and who will most likely visit the ED one day while on duty.