Bluewater Health has added Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to the treatment options available for people who have been diagnosed with significant mental health illnesses in Sarnia-Lambton. ECT has proven to be a safe, effective treatment for patients who may not have responded to other treatments.
“For people who suffer from severe, treatment-resistant illness, mania and/or schizophrenia, ECT treatment can improve quality of life and is often life-saving for the patient,” says Dr. Emmanuel Anyaegbuna, Medical Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services who is experienced in administering ECT and has been instrumental in establishing it at Bluewater Health.
ECT involves passing a small, controlled electric current between two metal discs (electrodes) that are applied on the surface of the patient’s scalp and/or temple which stimulates the brain, causing a controlled therapeutic seizure. The therapy is painless as patients are under a general anesthetic during the treatment.
Internationally recognized ECT expert, Dr. Kiran Rabheru, from The Ottawa Hospital, was part of the training and education at Bluewater Health, “I think the leadership that Bluewater Health has shown to bring this highly effective therapy to Sarnia Lambton – where it was previously not available at all - is a testament to their dedication to comprehensive mental health care.” He continued, “Modern ECT has been widely recognized as an excellent treatment for persons primarily with serious mood and / or psychotic disorders who have experienced the significant burden of mental health challenges and have not had success with other treatments such as medication, counselling or other therapies alone."
A Bluewater Health treatment team, inclusive of a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and nurses, are responsible for administering ECT for patients. The total number of treatments depend on the patient’s needs and how they respond to the therapy; for depression, a typical range is from six to 12 treatments. Initially, a patient will remain in hospital for monitoring of side effects and adjustments in the treatment plan. Once the treatment plan is established, patients may continue their treatments on an out-patient basis. Upon completion of their ECT treatment, patients will continue working with their psychiatrist and healthcare team to determine any further treatment plan and follow up care.
“People from Sarnia-Lambton have had to travel to London and other communities to access ECT so having this treatment program available here at Bluewater Health, closer to home for patients, improves access to care for patients and their families,” says Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Vice President of Mental Health and Addictions. “We are very fortunate that Dr. Anyaegbuna has spearheaded efforts to bring this life-saving therapy to Bluewater Health.”