Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dr. Crease

Dr. Arthur Crease began working as a pathologist and physician at the Provincial Mental Hospital in New Westminster in 1914. By 1926, he was appointed Medical Superintendent then General Superintendent and Provincial Psychiatrist in 1934. He had a warm relationship with his colleagues and was respected by many. He made many contributions to mental health care at Essondale and throughout the province.

Crease was particularly concerned that long- term patients and the newly admitted were housed in the same ward. His vision was to have a facility for the assessment, intensive treatment and rehabilitation of acutely ill mental patients. Thus, the Crease Clinic of Psychological Medicine was built.

 "The opening of the Crease Clinic was a real step forward. The physical facility was much better; people weren't lost in it like the bigger areas. Patients received more individual care; they had their own doctor, their own social worker. They got assessments from the Psychology Department. That was hard to do in those huge wards."

Alice McSweeney
Staff psychologist intermittently from 1948-1974.

Crease Clinic was a clinic for those suffering from the early symptoms of mental illness. It housed 325 patients and was a treatment and teaching centre. The focus was on rehabilitation and recovery within a few months rather than long-term hospitalization.

The clinic had a surgical suite, X-Ray department, laboratory, medical departments - cardiology, neurology, and ear/nose/throat - physiotherapy, recreational therapy, library and classrooms. The Crease Clinic was a state-of-the-art facility, which gathered worldwide attention when it opened.

The Crease Clinic operated under a different act than the Mental Hospitals Act. Patients could admit themselves voluntarily and also leave treatment. The usual program was four months though in some cases it could be extended to six. This approach encouraged people to seek help before their mental illnesses advanced.

"It should do much to place mental illness on the same plane as physical illness and help to remove any stigma, which uniformed people may have regarding sickness of the mind," said the 1951 Medical Superintendent's report.

Dr. Crease wasn't all business though. Apparently, every winter, the doctor would bring staff and patients up the hill from Essondale grounds to a lake. There, he would tie a rope around his waist and have everyone hold on tight to it. Crease would then venture out onto the frozen surface to see if it was safe enough to skate on. There are no stories of him falling through the ice.

Thanks to the PDF, Riverview, A Legacy of Care and Compassion for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill


  1. Mental health still has stigma to it. And God forbid you might have a physical challenge because then you are either retarded or mentally deficient. Been there done that.

    1. I was thinking that as I wrote about mental illness Lee.