Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Loss of Psychiatric Beds on Vancouver Island

From the Nanaimo Daily News in Canada:

"VIHA said they had to shut the [psychiatric] unit for as long as a year because they cannot find a replacement for a departing psychiatrist. It's hard to believe that VIHA has allowed itself to end up in this position.

In fact, Alberni-Qualicum MLA Scott Fraser is right when he says, "It's not acceptable . . . . It's not an option. You cannot shut down essential services."

To add to Fraser's incredulity, closing a mental health ward approaches irresponsible if not outright negligent.

VIHA might argue they have no control over the comings and goings of doctors, but it's pretty hard to believe that they did not or could not foresee this long enough ago to take appropriate action.

Either way, the fact that they could not negotiate to have the current psychiatrist remain until a replacement could be found, or that they were caught by surprise, indicates something is wrong within VIHA.

What this also seems to indicate is that the health authority has little regard for those in need of mental health care."

This story says a lot about the way many hospitals view psychiatric treatment... as a community service that is somehow "optional."


Midwife with a Knife said...

Sorry to do this to you, Roy. And I don't mean to take anything away from your post, but they're talking about Vancouver Island, which is a part of British Columbia, but not really part of Vancouver, BC (the city)... although you can take a ferry to it...

This is the community they're referring to, here (http://www.qualicumbeach.com/living_photo.asp)

And, Vancouver island is actually a lovely place (Victoria is located there as are many scenic areas), I would bet that if the VIHA was willing to compensate a psychiatrist appropriately, it wouldn't be hard to lure one out there. I suspect this is like stealth mental health care rationing, sort of...

Battle Weary said...

This story says a lot about the way many hospitals view psychiatric treatment... as a community service that is somehow "optional."

This is happening where I live also. Not exactly the same, but the end result is. Last June, the last county inpatient psych unit was closed. Last month, the local, large, private hospital closed the only other inpatient psych unit in the county...citing loss of money as the reason. Meanwhile, the same hospital has just about completed construction of a 72-bed "patient tower".

Roy said...

Thanks for the correction, MWWAK. I have corrected it in the title.

I think I was on V.I. before... took a ferry somewhere out of Vancouver to an island with a beautiful gardens area... think it was Victoria.

Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if the compensation was somehow designed to not get a lot of takers. This permits a "temporary" shut-down of services, which can later more easily be turned into a permanent closure. Yes, that is a cynical view, but let's get real here.

Anonymous said...

Likely Butchart Gardens, Roy. They are memorably beautiful, and near Victoria.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Roy: I totally agree with your cynical view.