BENDIGO Community Health Services is in discussions with the state government and Bendigo Health about opportunities to collaborate at a new facility.
The eight-bed residential rehabilitation facility, announced on Monday, will treat patients with both psychiatric and substance dependence and abuse issues.
BCHS chief executive officer Kim Sykes said the government had approached the organisation about supporting Bendigo Health in its work at the facility, to be based at Vahland House.
“We’ve certainly committed to do what we can to make sure it’s a success,” Ms Sykes said.
Establishing a model of staffing has been the focus of the discussions to date.
“The government has seen that this will require some additional support,” Ms Sykes said.
“It’s really important that we do bring the skill sets together and work together.”
She believed the organisation’s experience in addressing issues with alcohol and other drugs had attracted the government’s attention.
Bendigo Health psychiatric services executive director, Associate Professor Phil Tune, said psychiatric illnesses and substance dependence and abuse had previously been treated separately, despite a “very high degree” of comorbidity.
Many psychiatric patients also had issues with alcohol and other drugs, and vice versa.
“At the moment, people are managed by the alcohol and other drugs service, or the mental health service, or nothing,” Ms Sykes said.
She believed a facility treating the two issues concurrently would have a significant impact on services in the community.
“Having the eight beds at Bendigo Health means there will be a whole cohort (of staff) skilled up to better understand the dual diagnosis,” Ms Sykes said.
“That knowledge base will start to infiltrate the system.”
Dr Tune on Monday flagged the possibility the new facility would be staffed with help from a sub-contractor.
“We’re still working with government to refine the model,” he said.
However, he said Bendigo Health would be the lead organisation in any potential partnerships.
The new residential rehabilitation facility is expected to be voluntary, unlike the Extended Care Mental Health Rehabilitation presently at the site.
“People will have to want to be there,” Dr Tune said.
Earlier this month, the state government announced funding for four additional full-time equivalent security guards for Bendigo Health.
Dr Tune said the security guards would be based at Vahland House, where the Extended Care Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit is situated.
He told the Bendigo Advertiser on Monday the extended care unit was to be transferred to the new hospital in early December, creating space for the new facility.
Whether or not the security guards will shift to the new site with the unit remains unknown.
“We have not worked through the detailed requirements of the new beds,” a Bendigo Health spokeswoman said.
“Once we have worked out the security requirements we will determine the long-term location of the new guards.”