NORTH BAY -- A new section of the North Bay Regional Health Centre is being created for women who are victims of trauma, substance abuse and who face mental health issues.

The space is called Hummingbird Lodge and is unique compared to other hospitals in Ontario.

"Many of our patients who had come through the system have struggled in terms of being able to address and deal with trauma they have experienced in their past," said Jennifer Moore, the hospital’s director of mental health and addictions.

Hummingbird Lodge is an eight-bed unit, with each patient having their own room. There will be shared spaces both outside of the lodge and inside for meals and activities, as well as what are called 'comfort rooms.'

"We do individual, as well as group psychotherapy programs,” said occupational therapist Breanna May, touching on some of the therapy programs available. “We offer groups that focus on safe-coping skills as well as recognizing healthy boundaries and relationships."

The lodge will feature about 22 staff members, from nurses and social workers to grief counsellors. The hospital said the women entering the program are from existing facilities across Ontario who are looking to transfer to the service.

"We want our patients to feel that they are a part of their recovery and we want them to have as much choice (as possible) in their journey," said Moore.

Template for other hospitals

The program focuses on enhancing patients’ self-esteem, coping strategies and stabilizing psychiatric conditions. Moore said she can see other hospitals adopting a similar strategy in the future.

"We are so excited because it's taken a number of years for planning and recruiting highly skilled professionals," said hospital president and CEO Paul Heinrich.

Patients will stay between one to three years and when they complete the program, many will return home to their families. However, there will be space available for families. Staff are encouraging families to support their loved one as much as they can during their stay at the facility.

"We've built this program right from the ground up,” said May. “We've consulted with a lot of research, but also have been lucky to consult with a lot of female forensic patients."

The hospital is expecting there will be a waiting list to get in. The first women will be arriving into the program next month.