With their exceptional leadership and collaboration across the health care continuum, the Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Flow Physician and Operation Leads Team have fostered successful partnerships with acute sites and external stakeholders across the region. Their combined efforts have improved access to timely, patient-centred care.

An interdisciplinary team of physicians, staff and medical staff have combined forces to develop a new centralized approach to resource allocation that has improved access to mental health services for patients across the region and province.

“Our goal was to ensure that patients across the region have equal access to care, regardless of the community they are in. If a patient is waiting in the Emergency Department at Royal Columbian Hospital, and there is a bed available at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, we could coordinate a transfer, ensuring that the patient receives timely care,” says Dr. Mansoor Anwar, regional division head, Tertiary Psychiatry Department of Mental Health and Psychiatry at Royal Columbian Hospital.

Together, the Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Flow Physician and Operation Leads Team recognized that their success hinged on building partnerships and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

“We worked hard to foster a culture of collaborative problem-solving and open dialogue among our internal and external partners,” says Laura Caron, director, Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) Clinical Operations. “I believe this has changed how we approach service delivery for the better.”

Strengthening partnerships improved access and flow processes, providing direct positive health outcomes, like ensuring patients receive high-quality care in the right place at the right time.

“Everyone deserves treatment with respect and dignity and being part of this team allows me to advocate for access to care and services in a timely manner,” says Kam Sandher, manager, Patient Access and Community Transition, MHSU Access and Flow Supports.

The group has implemented several changes that have had immediate and long-lasting impacts on access and flow and the patient experience.

“This team has a proven record of building harmony and consensus in decision-making and sharing knowledge and information to contribute to the success of our program. This cohesive approach works to better the lives of patients, residents, families and the MHSU community,” says Dr. Koo, program medical director and regional department head, Mental Health and Psychiatric Programs.

For Laura, it’s about small, consistent actions accumulating over time that lead to significant transformations.

“Health care is a field where the collective impact often outweighs individual contributions,” she says. “To make lasting changes, it's imperative to foster collaboration, open dialogue and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

Those lasting effects – from increased staff morale to improved patient experiences – cascade into broader societal benefits.

“Their collaboration has resulted in notable shifts and benefits for even the most challenging situations and partnerships,” says Dr. Koo. “People respect this team because they know they work from a place of patient-centred sincerity and integrity.”

Inspired by the individuals they serve – patients and their families – the team continues to support those navigating mental health and substance use challenges.

“Seeing the team's hard work and their commitment to creating a positive change strengthens my resolve to give my best every day,” says Laura.

The Mental Health and Substance Use Access and Flow Physician and Operation Leads Team are recipients of a Best Collaboration Above and Beyond Award.

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