Riverview Hospital blogs
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Dr.Arthur Lionel Crease
(From the Hospital Annual Reports V 13-4 1949-50) By A.M. Gee.M.D.(Director, 1951-58)
Dr. Arthur L. Crease retired from the position of director of Mental Hygiene and Psychiatry on March 31st, 1950, after a professional lifetime devoted to the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Throughout his career Dr.Crease has been noted for his outstanding humanitarianism, his great kindliness and his devotion to the welfare of others, patients and staff alike.
His early medical training was obtained at McGill University, from which he graduated 1910, followed by four years of postgraduate study in medicine and pathology in the hospitals of Rhode Island. With this excellent preparation in medicine, Dr. Crease came to the West and in 1914 joined the staff of the Provincial Mental Hospital, New Westminster, B.C., as pathologist and physician. Since 1914 he has devoted his full time to the Provincial Mental Health Service and over the years with his increased experience he has had greater responsibilities. On the death of the late Dr. Steeves in 1926, Dr. Crease was given the appointment of Medical Superintendent and in 1934 he was promoted to General Superintendent and Provincial Psychiatrist this latter appointment being redesignated Director of Mental Hygiene and Psychiatry in 1946 Throughout his long career in the Provincial service, Dr. Crease has had many interests and all of them have meant better care for the mental patients. He always insisted upon a high level of competence from the physicians and called for the maintenance of high standards of medical practice. His early training in the hospitals of New England convinced him of the importance of modern laboratories as an aid in the practice of medicine. He therefore gave the developments of this department, of the Hospital his full support, thereby laying a firm foundation for improved diagnosis and treatment. The quarter century of Dr. Crease's administration of the Mental Hospitals was far from being placid; there was first the great depression of the 30's and then the upheaval of World War II, both of which placed severe restrictions upon the budget and made it difficult to obtain personnel. In spite of these difficulties, however, Dr. Crease maintained his progressive outlook and was able to pioneer in the introduction of many new services to the Hospitals, which made for better care and treatment of the patients.
The Training School for Psychiatric Nurses graduated the first group of students to take the postgraduate course for registered nurses in October, 1930, while the first class of psychiatric nurses was graduated in 1932.
The Psychiatric Social Service Department was established in 1930 and has grown over the years to meet the increasing demands. This department has played an important part in spreading the newer ideas concerning mental illnesses and in assisting the patient and community to achieve a wholesome adjustment to each other when the patient returns to his home.
The preventive aspects of psychiatry have always been of special interest to Dr. Crease, and in this connection he was instrumental in the establishment of the Child Guidance Clinics in 1932. He devoted many, years to the daily duties of the Child Guidance Clinic, where he stressed the importance of the early treatment of the behaviour disorders of children and carried on an informal teaching programme of the principals of mental hygiene. Many physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists of the staff workers from referring agencies learned much from his teachings and continued to be amazed at the wisdom and foresight in human relations that Dr. Crease exhibited.
To provide variety and stimulation in the daily routine of the patients living in the Hospitals, the occupational therapy department was increased in size and new crafts introduced, and a diversified leisure-time activities programme comprised of music, movies, and all types of recreation, was established. Dr. Crease was always a serious student, devoting many of his evenings to keeping abreast of advances in medicine and psychiatry.
In 1935 he was granted a leave of absence and went to the University of Colorado, where, under Dr. F. G. Ebaugh, he took an intensive postgraduate course in psychiatry with the purpose of learning the latest methods of treatment. Upon his return to Essondale, Dr. Crease made arrangements for a rotational plan of postgraduate study for the staff psychiatrists and other key personnel. This policy of postgraduate study remains in operation to-day, and over the years it has paid increasing dividends in the high quality of service rendered by the Hospital staff.
Throughout his career, Dr. Crease maintained that psychiatrists should not neglect the preventive aspects of their science and that they should concentrate on the early, active, and intensive treatment of the mentally ill. Such an emphasis, he thought, shortened the duration of the illness, reduced the toll of psychic suffering, and left the patient with fewer incapacitating "mental scars" when he returned to his home and community. It is this philosophy that motivated him in his years of planning and striving for the modern Clinic of Psychological Medicine that so fittingly bears his name.
As an administrator, Dr. Crease was unique. In an age of increasing tension he was able to maintain a warmly democratic personal relationship with his staff. He respected the judgment of his associates and gave them his full support in difficult times. He made it a policy to have the staff come in to his office from time to time “to talk things over," and in this fashion he issued the necessary directions for the operation of the Hospitals. In all matters Dr. Crease was eminently fair and scrupulously honest; the friend of all and the counsellor of many in their own personal problems.
On the afternoon of Friday, March 10th, a reception for Dr. and Mrs. Crease was held in the day room of Ward East 2 in the new Crease Clinic. This was definitely a family affair, with the staff, their wives, and close friends of the Hospital being present to celebrate along with Dr. Crease his sixty-fifth birthday and to present to him some gifts for his new home at Ocean Park.
The reception was not an occasion for farewells but rather for congratulations on a job well done. While Dr. Crease may now put aside the heavy burden of responsibility that he has borne so capably over the years, to the staff he remains the senior member of the Mental Hospital family who will always be interested in the welfare of us all and an inspiration to continued humane care and scientific treatment for the mentally ill.
Arthur Lionel Crease passed away in 1974, he was married to Florence Sarah Vanwyck, on July 6,1926 in Vancouver. Sarah pre-deceased Dr.Crease on June 15,1968 at 70 years of age in Burnaby.