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Our mental health team is growing to meet the need for better access to care

Dr. Marco Solmi, Dr. Gayatri Saraf Dr. Saumil Dholaki, Dr. Anne Mary Abe

We hear it almost every day: people in our community need better access to mental health care.  With this in mind, The Ottawa Hospital has hired 20 new psychiatrists since October 2020 to meet this ever-growing demand.

“Our hospital continues to be the city’s largest provider of acute mental health care, and this growing team means that we are expanding our reach to the people who really need us,” says Dr. Jess Fiedorowicz, Head and Chief of the Department of Mental Health at The Ottawa Hospital and Professor and Senior Research Chair in Adult Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa.  

The Ottawa Hospital’s Mental Health Department’s acute care offerings include two of Ottawa’s four adult Psychiatric Emergency Services, 96 inpatient mental health beds, an array of skills groups, a mobile crisis team, and much more to meet the urgent needs of our patients and the community.

It takes a large and dedicated group of talented mental health professionals to offer these services.  Get to know four of our new psychiatrists, who have joined us from around the world.

Dr. Marco Solmi

Dr. Marco Solmi

Medical doctor, clinical academic, associate professor

Dr. Marco Solmi specializes in helping some of the more than one million people in Canada who are living with eating disorders.[1] Together with his colleagues, he works in the Symptom Interruption Program at The Ottawa Hospital, a six-bed inpatient unit for people who are at high risk of being medically compromised because of severe weight loss and/or severe purging.

Learn more about eating disorder treatment programs offered at The Ottawa Hospital.

“I came to The Ottawa Hospital because the psychiatric inpatient unit is connected to all the other specialities for the best care for the patient.  We have a 360-degree view on health,” he says.

His main research interests include how to prevent mental disorders, how to intervene as early as possible, how a person’s mental health can affect their physical health, and how to best use medications to treat people with mental disorders.  To achieve this, he uses meta research techniques, meta-analysis, systematic reviews, and large data sets from patients to reveal patterns and identify solutions to real-world problems.

Dr. Solmi earned a Ph.D. from the University of Padua in Italy.  He became a staff physician at The Ottawa Hospital and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa in 2021.

[1] National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Dr. Anne Mary Abe

Dr. Anne Mary Abe

Medical doctor, neuropsychiatrist, assistant professor

As a neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Anne Mary Abe works with patients who have conditions such as epilepsy or a traumatic brain injury, which can bring on both neurological and psychiatric problems.  Since our brains are not organized in neat, distinct silos, there is a lot of overlap.  Dr. Abe uses her expertise to try to bridge that overlap and help her colleagues treat the “whole” brain. For example, she helps treat depression, fatigue or psychotic experiences which can occur in a person living with Parkinson’s Disease, often leading to a better overall quality of life.

“If you need to come to our hospital, you’ll get good, evidence-based care by very astute and caring physicians,” she says.

Dr. Abe earned her medical degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, her Master’s Degree in neuroscience from King’s College London,  her post graduate diploma in Applied Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol and her residency with Kings College London.  She joined The Ottawa Hospital in September 2021.

Dr. Saumil Dholaki

Dr. Saumil Dholakia

Medical doctor, bioethicist, assistant professor

Dr. Saumil Dholakia works in our Psychosocial Oncology Program, where he helps cancer patients experiencing mental health issues that began either before or after their cancer diagnosis.  Some of them are struggling with existential issues and challenges as they approach end of life. 

He also works with the geriatric psychiatric behavioural support team, where he provides consultations to geriatric patients throughout the hospital and teaches staff how best to manage geriatric patients who may have dementia, delirium or other mental health challenges. 

Learn more about the Geriatrics Program at The Ottawa Hospital.

“There is a very accepting atmosphere here.  People want to know who you are as a person and what you want to contribute,” he says.

In addition to his work with the oncology and geriatric teams, Dr. Dholakia works in the Urgent Care Clinic, which is where adult patients receive outpatient mental health care treatment.  There, he is part of a team that helps patients transition to the community smoothly.

His research interests include studying the emotional impact on health-care providers who provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). He received his medical education from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Toronto in bioethics.

Dr. Gayatri Saraf

Dr. Gayatri Saraf

Medical doctor, clinician investigator, assistant professor

Dr. Gayatri Saraf treats patients living with bipolar and other mood disorders.  Her research focuses on looking at the efficacy of novel interventions for depression and cognitive impairment associated with bipolar disorder.

In addition to working at the hospital’s Urgent Care Clinic, she works at the Perinatal Mental Health Program, which addresses a big unmet need by providing mental health care to people who are pregnant or within the first year postpartum.

In both her clinical practice and her research, Dr. Saraf believes that early intervention is extremely important because it can prevent the condition from worsening and promote better outcomes.  She wants to give people hope and reassurance that help is available if you need it.

“We are very patient centered, and that resonates with me,” she says.

Together with a team of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and others, she considers factors like medication, housing, loneliness and others to determine the best course of action.

Dr. Saraf trained at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, in Bangalore, India in Psychiatry, completed a fellowship in mood disorders in the Mood Disorders Center at the University of British Columbia and came to The Ottawa Hospital in 2022.


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