C-PROMPT delivers urgent mental health support

On April 6, The Royal established C-PROMPT to temporarily provide support and mental health care services to individuals with urgent mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The clinic came together very quickly,” says Dr. Paul Sedge, The Royal’s associate chief for Ottawa, who estimates it took only two weeks to set up the clinic. 

The Royal

Located at The Royal’s main campus in Ottawa, C-PROMPT moved into the space normally occupied by the OSI clinic, (which moved to virtual care during the pandemic) and is staffed with a multidisciplinary care team that provides a range of services including assessment and short-term counseling. 95 per cent of appointments are done virtually. 

C-PROMPT is referral-based and accepts individuals (aged 18+) from psychiatrists and primary care providers. 

“We provide assessments by psychiatry and psychology, and social work,” describes Shelley Hale, the director of C-PROMPT. “We are also providing medication consultation, brief psychotherapy, and support to help get our community through until they can access the services they had been accessing previously.”

The clinic has received widespread support from the community. At the time of writing, over 150 people and organizations have donated to C-PROMPT, raising over $500,000.

A group of leaders of more than 40 companies and organizations within the construction sector working with the PCL/EllisDon Joint Venture were among the original donors. They banded together – despite the economic uncertainly brought on by the pandemic – and raised over $200,000 in 72 hours.

Sedge says although COVID was the impetus behind the development of the clinic, it’s not the main reason why it’s so busy. “We have unmasked a real unmet need for secondary mental health care in the Ottawa region, delivered in a timely fashion,” he says. 

Hale agrees that the high volume of referrals has highlighted a void in mental health care during a critical time.  

“For all of us working in the clinic, this work has been very rewarding. We feel like we’re doing the right thing during these unprecedented times,” says Hale. “We brought together a team of strong client advocates and we have navigated the systems, both internal and external, to ensure clients are getting the care they need to improve their mental health.”

Anne Bailliu, a social worker at The Royal, is one of the staff members supporting clients who come through C-PROMPT. 

She says many of the people she’s seen – who include health care workers and first responders – are dealing with anxiety around their health and the health of their families.

“People are feeling really distressed right now and we give them tools with how to deal with that,” says Bailliu, adding that C-PROMPT clients tend to be especially receptive to getting help.  

Sedge says his clients are pleased they're able to receive care so quickly. “They’re almost emotional, they’re so relieved.” 

“They went to their family doctor three or four days ago and they’re seeing a psychiatrist in their home. And that aspect of it – being able to respond that quickly and being able to deliver it in somebody’s home without any hassle – it’s amazing how good it makes people feel.”

“We’ve demonstrated a need, and it’s a matter of how we transition this into a permanent service for the community,” says Sedge. 

The future of C-PROMPT

Bailliu, who works primarily in The Royal’s OSI Clinic, hopes this type of urgent care clinic will become a permanent service.

“We have, within The Royal, so much expertise in so many different areas that we can really establish something like this long term,” she says. 

Bailliu hopes that when we emerge on the other side of the pandemic that a greater number of clinicians, clients, and families will continue using telemedicine. 

“We have a huge province, and a huge catchment area… we need to increase capacity to use telemedicine beyond COVID,” she says. “This is a good opportunity to show that people are open to it, people do well with it.”  

“Things are going well and it’s due to the help, assistance, compassion and understanding of the out-patient medical staff at The Royal,” says Marie-Alice, mother of Georges who goes to the C-PROMPT clinic to receive his regular injections to help curb his symptoms. “We are so grateful to the C-PROMPT clinic for ensuring the well-being of people in our community afflicted with mental illness.”


Key points about C-PROMPT

  • Opened April 6, 2020
  • 592 referrals (as of June 9) 
  • The average age of C-PROMPT clients is 39
  • Primary care clinicians are the largest source of referrals
  • Primary care clinicians are also using C-PROMT to seek second opinions and medication consultations
  • Top mental health issues include anxiety and depression exacerbated by COVID 
  • 95% of consultations have taken place via technology
Healthcare worker using telemedicine

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Made possible by generous donations to the Royal Ottawa Foundation

Made possible by generous donations to the Royal Ottawa Foundation