03 November 2020
​St Vincent's Hospital is now home to Australia's first Psychiatric Alcohol and Non-Prescription Drug Assessment (PANDA) Unit, which will provide specialist care to patients experiencing drug or alcohol-related psychotic episodes.

The $17.7 million six-bed unit was opened by Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor today and funded by a $12 million grant from the NSW Government, as well as philanthropic support from SIRENS. 

"This new unit will enable more people living with addiction and complex mental illness to be treated in a specialist environment where they can begin their recovery," Mrs Taylor said. 

The unit has been built next to the St Vincent's Emergency Department (ED), so that clinicians can draw on the expertise of the Mental Health, Clinical Pharmacology and Alcohol & Drug team. 

The PANDA unit will support the frequently busy ED, where a prolonged stay can overwhelm people who are intoxicated or experiencing a psychotic episode. 

"It's vital we provide the right environment so people don't leave before an appropriate care plan can be put in place," added Mrs Taylor. 

Director of St Vincent's Emergency Associate Professor Paul Preisz said the new unit will also provide streamlined care to patients who may be detained involuntarily under the Mental Health Act and require short stay observation, assessment, and treatment planning prior to transfer or discharge.   

"Our new specialist PANDA team will provide a safe and quiet space to better assess and treat these patients, with the aim of developing a more robust framework prior to discharge," said Associate Professor Preisz. 

St Vincent's Hospital CEO Associate Professor Anthony Schembri AM said the focus will be on working collaboratively with patients to ensure they get the specialist support they need. 

"We will deliver psycho-education and drug and alcohol interventions with an emphasis on discharge planning.  

"The community has long entrusted us to look after this particularly vulnerable population, and I think the opening of this unit today marks an important accomplishment for St Vincent's to further bolster this trust," said Associate Professor Schembri.

Current as at: Tuesday 3 November 2020