Recently we interviewed Brian Bentz, President and CEO of Alectra Inc., who was thrilled that the company’s largest charitable gift ever will help create innovative solutions to the mental health challenges faced by those in the West GTA, challenges made even more difficult by the pandemic. Alectra’s record donation of $1,050,000 to Trillium Health Partners (THP) will support research and innovation to create a new and more equitable kind of mental health care. “This gift will advance awareness of mental health issues and help THP become a world-class leader in mental health care innovation,” says Brian.
Mississauga-Halton is one of the most under-funded areas for mental health in Ontario, creating pressure on the hospital through rising numbers of patients. For example, THP has seen a 65 percent increase in the number of no-bed admits for mental health since 2019/20, so patients must remain in the Emergency Department for care. That’s today, but THP is projected to experience the highest growth in demand for inpatient mental health beds among large community hospitals over the next 20years.
To ensure all residents in the West GTA have access to mental health care when they need it, THP wants to improve the mental health care system. Working with community partners, the goal is to provide equitable access, timely treatment, compassionate support and increased capacity. This work will be supported by THP’s Institute for Better Health, the hospital’s research and innovation engine, which will examine the social, economic and demographic factors that shape mental health in the region to identify and then address gaps in care for under-served populations.
Brian felt a tremendous alignment between Alectra and THP: both are public entities that evolvedthrough mergers to better serve their communities. THP united Mississauga Hospital, Credit Valley Hospital and Queensway Health Centre in 2011 and created one of the largest and most innovative hospital systems in Canada. Alectra combined five municipal electrical utilities in 2017 to create the largest municipally owned utility in Canada, “to create something bigger and better without losing its heart or soul,” Brian explained. Today Alectra serves approximately one million homes and businesses across a 1,800 square kilometre service territory that includes Mississauga, Hamilton and Vaughan.
Both THP and Alectra are key parts of the region’s critical public infrastructure, and both face major challenges that require constant innovation to serve the people who rely on their services. Alectra is working to reduce carbon emissions and build a more resilient grid in response to climate change while continuing to meet the growing and changing needs of consumers. Those changes include the massive projected adoption of electrical vehicles, how to add rooftop solar panels to the grid, smart metering and more. THP must overcome aging infrastructure to keep pace with rising demand due to a growing and aging population with more complex health needs. Change is a must for both.
“Alectra is about innovation, customer focus and giving back,” noted Brian, “So the idea of helping THP assist people through innovation, especially mental health challenges, really resonated with us.”
Alectra’s record donation will fund a mental health Clinician Scientist, a new position within the Institute for Better Health. This individual will build a portfolio of research projects to support the redesign of the mental health care system, with new models of care that are equitable and meet the needs of all community members. Key areas of focus include prevention, early detection and access, and patient-centred treatment.
“Thanks to this most generous gift from Alectra, our scientists will be able to work with patients, families, as well as our local mental health providers and leaders, to create a new kind of mental health care that is patient-centred and equitable, providing the best possible outcomes for our patients,” said Dr. Robert Reid, Chief Scientist at the Institute for Better Health.
Brian spoke on behalf of his entire team when he discussed the impact Alectra hopes to make through this record donation to THP: “We want to see the program flourish with a focus on families, including underprivileged communities, advancing awareness of mental health issues in the hospital’s catchment area as Trillium Health Partners becomes a world-class leader in innovation on mental health issues and treatment.”
Inspired by Alectra and interested in becoming a Corporate Champion? Contact Kathleen Cymek for more information: Kathleen.Cymek@thp.ca