A new collaboration between Windsor Regional Hospital and the Downtown Mission aims to help homeless residents and people suffering from addictions and mental health issues.

The new partnership will see a "Mission Navigator" posted at the Ouellette campus.

The navigator will be engaged by hospital staff in the emergency department, both during treatment and after discharge, to guide the patient towards appropriate services.

"They need help now. So by doing this, it can get them that help immediately” says Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj.

Friday’s announcement follows a report from Public Health Ontario that says 16 people in Windsor-Essex have died from opioid-related overdoses in the first half of 2018.

Hospitals are also seeing an uptick in the number of people with addictions coming to emergency.

Data shows 90 emergency department visits in the first six months of 2018, and 30 hospitalizations.

Musyj tells CTV Windsor the need is critical, with Windsor's homeless population making about two thousand trips to the ER annually.

"How can we help them, and connect them with primary care so they don't have to come back to the emergency department."

Ron Dunn, who heads up the Downtown Mission, admits the partnership is unique, but says changing needs call for different solutions.

"You call them patients, we call them guests. They're all people in need," says Dunn.

The mission will foot the $100,000 annual cost, but Dunn says they will ultimately seek financial assistance from upper levels of government.

"If this doesn't do anything else but save one life, than it's worth whatever the cost" says Dunn.

The staffer will begin its job at the Ouellette campus on Monday, and will be posted between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., five days a week.

The staffer is a recovering addict, and the hope is that he can connect with patients to get them the help they need.