Dr. Strong, who passed away in January 2011, was instrumental in setting up the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital.
“It was his proposal that established the service of the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital in 1985 at the L.A. Miller Centre,” said Beverley Clarke, vice-president responsible for Mental Health and Addictions with Eastern Health. “Over the years Dr. Strong provided care to individuals through the day hospital, outpatient clinics as well as a home visiting service as well as being a part of the academic team at Memorial’s medical school. The idea of the dedication of the day hospital evolved from the years of service given by Dr. Strong to the geriatric population of the province in the area of mental health.”
Dr. Isabel Martins, a colleague of Dr. Strong’s, spoke during the ceremony and recalled that Dr. Strong was central to the development of a geriatric psychiatry program in Newfoundland. “From its beginning the program was founded on timely access and flexibility. It was also a teaching services and a three month rotation in geriatric psychiatry became mandatory for psychiatry residents.”
“Howard was a visionary,” said Dr. Roger Butler, associate professor of family medicine with the Ross Family Medicine Centre at the Miller Centre. ”He had on file over 3,000 cases of dementia he had treated in his career. He was dedicated to provide compassionate care to people living with dementia. His knowledge of geriatric psychiatry was remarkable and his dedication to teaching and training medical students, family medicine residents and psychiatry residents, as well as seasoned practitioners was well known.”
Dr. Butler said Dr. Strong was a firm supporter of the Alzheimer Society and his respect in the medical community was supreme. “Howard developed the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital into a team of experienced geriatric psychiatrists, allied health professionals, nurses and advanced practice nurses who provide ongoing therapeutic support to elderly patients with mental health problems. Their assessments often included home visits which are rare in other jurisdictions throughout Canada.”
Dr. Butler said that Dr. Strong was the prime mover in establishing this important program, and the legacy he left behind is one of a high quality team that provides outstanding geriatric psychiatry care to the people of our province. “It is most appropriate that the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital be dedicated to his memory, as he was a professional role model to which we all should aspire. He is missed greatly by his team, his colleagues, his family and his dedicated supportive wife of many years, Shirley,” he added.
The Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital provides mental health outpatient services to older people who develop mental illness or mental health difficulties. The program has three components, namely, an Outpatient Clinic for Assessment and Treatment, Community Outreach, and a Day Hospital which operates Monday to Friday.
A plaque dedicating the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital to Dr. Howard Strong was unveiled during a ceremony March 13. Nurse Christine Duggan and psychiatrist Dr. Isabel Martins did the honours.