The addictions treatment centre at St. Joseph's Hospital hasn't been open for a full year yet, but the need for it has already become apparent. Because of that need, there is an expansion to the treatment centre on the way following yesterday's provincial budget. 

In the budget, the government announced there would be providing enough funds to expand the treatment centre by 12 beds. This will take the centre from 20 beds (most of which are dedicated to those battling methamphetamine addictions) to 32. 

"We're very excited to have that announcement and the corresponding funds that go to creating that space in St. Joseph's Hospital," said hospital executive director Greg Hoffort, "to help meet the need that is clearly there."

The need for the centre became apparent almost immediately, as all of the beds there were spoken for quickly after it officially opened in October last year. The treatment plan was structured for the individual rather than a one-size-fits-all type of rehabilitation. 

"It's getting to the point where we're really providing a good program," Hoffort said. "The staff at the centre are doing some great work with some people that are at a very vulnerable place in their life and there's a solid program starting to yield some really positive results in helping folks improve their life."

Part of the reason for the expansion, however, is that there are still many more people in need of services there. The centre opened on October 6 and was full to capacity by mid-November, with the 20 beds for recovering addicts taken up right away. 

"We've gotten to the point where we're experiencing quite a lengthy waiting list to gain entry into the centre," said Hoffort. "So the additional space and funding will be a welcome addition and will allow us to let more people into the facility."

Hoffort did not have an exact date for when the expanded beds would be ready to receive patients, but he said work would begin immediately and the hope was to have it open before the end of 2021. If so, that would make for an incredible end of the first full year of the centre's operation.

"With the timelines from the announcement of the centre to opening day," Hoffort said, "throw in the pandemic and the results of that, the positive COVID results we had in the addictions centre that caused us to send the staff home for a few weeks, the challenges were seemingly never-ending and the people at the addictions centre have really risen to the cause."