Plans for 52-bed private mental health clinic unveiled

Ian Bushnell 13 June 2020 27
Deakin Clinic

An artist’s impression of the proposed Deakin Clinic on the corner of Denison Street and Strickland Crescent. Images: Purdon Planning.

Plans have been lodged for a 52-bed private mental health facility in Deakin’s medical precinct, to be operated by Healthe Care Australia.

Barwon Investment Partners and Healthe Care Australia announced its intention to establish the facility last September to meet ”pent up demand” for mental health services in the ACT, particularly adolescent care. They said then that construction would begin in the coming months but a development application has only just been submitted to the planning authority.

The state of the ACT’s mental health services has become a hot political issue in the ACT, with the Opposition regularly attacking Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury for a lack of services and failings in the existing system.

Mr Rattenbury had welcomed the announcement last September and the parties’ commitment to delivering high-quality mental health care.

”We look forward to working with them as we collectively seek to address the changing nature of mental health service demand in our community,” he said.

The Deakin Health Hub will house Canberra’s only adolescent mental health beds, until a public adolescent mental health ward opens in about 2022 when the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children expansion is due to be completed.

At present, young people are admitted to the pediatric ward at Canberra Hospital, the adult psychiatric ward or sent interstate for treatment.

The $25 million proposal also includes six consulting rooms, three consulting suites, group meeting rooms, dining areas, kitchen, gym and other staff and service areas.

Three-storey consulting wing

The new three-storey consulting wing with undercroft parking.

It will deliver inpatient, day group programs and outpatient adult mental health services for high prevalence mood disorders, trauma recovery services, as well as adolescent and young adult mental health intervention and treatment.

Sited on the corner of Strickland Crescent and Denison Street, the project involves the refurbishment of the existing vacant building, construction of a new extension to the rear and construction of a new three-storey consulting wing to the left of the existing building, with ground-level undercroft parking. A total of 85 parking spaces will be provided on the site.

The proposal requires a change of building class and a lease variation to remove the use of ‘motel’ and add community facilities limited to health facility and hospital.

Two regulated trees, three unregulated trees and four shrubs are proposed to be removed to allow construction of the additional consulting wing, extension and to make way for an ambulance parking bay.

The DA prepared by Purdon Planning says the proposed consulting wing will allow mental health practitioners to operate from a single location.

”At present, there are limited consulting rooms attached to hospitals. This means that many practitioners travel between private suites and hospitals to treat patients, which results in healthcare inefficiencies,” it says.

The proponents say the ACT’s suffers from a critical lack of mental health care facilities and the new facility will provide dedicated beds to adolescents and programs tailored to the ACT population including veterans with PTSD and substance-abuse sufferers.

They say it will reduce pressure on the public system and the need for patients and their families to travel interstate for treatment.

The DA is supported by the ACT’s medical profession.

Site location

The site in Deakin is adjacent to the Calvary John James Hospital.

A Canberra mother, who commented on the DA, said that the facility is desperately needed in Canberra. ”Both my 17-year-old daughter and I suffer from very complex mental illnesses that includes suicidal ideation. We both must travel to Sydney for private hospital care,” she wrote.

Her experience at the Adult Mental Health Unit has been traumatic and she refuses to allow her daughter to be admitted there, as has been her daughter’s interaction with the stretched Canberra Hospital Emergency Department, waiting 24 hours before being admitted to the Short Stay Mental Health Unit (SSMHU).

The mother says the ACT Government’s Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is disjointed and ”very, very difficult” to navigate.

”In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic mental illness within Canberra is at crisis point,” she says.


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27 Responses to Plans for 52-bed private mental health clinic unveiled
Natalie Ogilvie Natalie Ogilvie 11:27 am 18 Jun 20

Great news. I hope the government put a deal In place that the private offer any vacant beds to the overflow of patients on the waiting list, at the same cost we would pay to put them through public. Make that part of the conditions from the beginning.

grim123 grim123 4:53 pm 15 Jun 20

Well this will upset the people who think everything should be free.

Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 11:57 am 15 Jun 20

Awesome news though should be available and accessible to anyone especially if they don’t have private insurance

    Loretta Wholley Loretta Wholley 9:18 pm 15 Jun 20

    Raffy Sgroi hang on, weren’t the Labor / Greens government meant to have a new adolescent mental health unit promised to us at the last election? Now it’s a private hospital...

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 9:28 pm 15 Jun 20

    Loretta Wholley 2016 promises??!

    Loretta Wholley Loretta Wholley 9:32 pm 15 Jun 20

    Raffy Sgroi I’m pretty sure

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 9:50 pm 15 Jun 20

    Loretta Wholley spot on!

Herman Riet Herman Riet 10:24 am 15 Jun 20

Hope they will see sense & realise that most that need their help are low income & as such bulk bill & truly help those that need it & not become a money making concern

Dianne Davey Dianne Davey 12:26 am 15 Jun 20

What about the uninsured??

Claire Majella Claire Majella 11:37 pm 14 Jun 20

Step One.

Tara Jameson Tara Jameson 11:03 pm 14 Jun 20

This was supposedly a done-deal back in September, 9 months ago. I don't understand how the plans can only just have been lodged.

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 8:48 am 15 Jun 20

    Tara Jameson Commitment = done deal. Plans lodged = work has been done to make it real. (There is a limit to how many $$ will be spent on that work without a firm commitment).

Michelle Caldwell Michelle Caldwell 8:58 pm 14 Jun 20

That's great news for some families. Unfortunately it's too late for my son.

Lea Powell Lea Powell 8:09 pm 14 Jun 20

Great idea, but getting mental health support should not be related to having insurance.

Amanda Bogar Amanda Bogar 6:45 pm 14 Jun 20

This is great news! long overdue!

Abbie Bogàr

Tracey Farrar Tracey Farrar 6:18 pm 14 Jun 20

About time there was a facility.

Jason Bachmann Jason Bachmann 5:59 pm 14 Jun 20

Why is every new hospital built private! More public funding, get rid of the private system and put it in to the public system. Just money for big business🙁

Sue McShane Sue McShane 2:38 pm 14 Jun 20

That is fantastic x

Jane Nichols Jane Nichols 2:24 pm 14 Jun 20

It’s great. For those who can afford it or are covered under their health insurance. Meanwhile public health services need more funding

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 8:46 am 15 Jun 20

    JaneNichols Extending the private facilities might help reduce demand on the public facilities, though.

    Jane Nichols Jane Nichols 9:34 am 15 Jun 20

    Kytie Mclign true. But patients need to review health insurance coverage, as most policies rarely cover psychiatric services.

Chelle Belle Chelle Belle 1:04 pm 14 Jun 20

This is great but we are also in need of another private mental health facility for adults as well

Margaret Blood Margaret Blood 12:09 pm 14 Jun 20

A good use of this site, I think. I hope that inpatients will have views across to the playing fields or green spaces off Denison Street.

Alison Lamb Alison Lamb 11:10 am 14 Jun 20

Thank goodness they’ve actually planned for parking spaces as well 😊👍

Sofia Polak Sofia Polak 11:05 am 14 Jun 20

Excellent! I hope it’s accessible to those who need it the most.

Michelle Beadman Michelle Beadman 10:27 am 14 Jun 20

This is great! Hopefully it all goes to plan.

Bek Clark Bek Clark 10:21 am 14 Jun 20

Construction to commence in the coming months but only just lodged a DA. They’ll need a BA prior to commencing construction too. They’ve not done this before huh?

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