Health care beds remain critically important

Published on March 18, 2017

Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.

©Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

KENTVILLE, NS – The Beacon House mental health facility in Kentville and the detox beds at Soldier’s Memorial Hospital in Middleton are not on the chopping block.

Health and Wellness minister Leo Glavine says no policy is being developed in his department that would close those two Valley facilities.

While Glavine, who is MLA for Kings West, did acknowledge that current perspectives on best practices are being gathered, no plans have formulated and both facilities remain critically important.

A leaked report by an Ontario physician Dr. Brian Rush had some in the field concerned about closure and Progressive Conservative MLA John Lohr urged the Liberal government to keep Beacon House operating. 

The report, which was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Health Authority, also recommended closing four other inpatient detox units in the province, in favour of day treatment programs. It was completed last fall.

Glavine told The Register last week the challenge his department is facing is that there is not enough long-term care for people who have emerged from opioid detoxing.

“We don’t want those dealing with drug dependency,” Glavine said, “to go back to the street.”

But Lohr still finds the results of the report concerning.

“This isn’t an either-or situation,” says Lohr. “We need long-term inpatient facilities just as much as we need day programs. Nova Scotians seeking treatment deserve specialized, integrative care that gives them the best chance at recovery.”

The report also suggested that 42,000 Nova Scotians sought help for addictions and mental health services in 2014-15, and in some cases, it took over 30 days for them to be seen by a health-care professional.  

“There is a crisis with mental health in this province and the system is broken,” said Lohr. “I think common sense would say the last thing the government should do is shut down a treatment centre and make it even more difficult for people to access the care they desperately need.”

Lohr says the report suggests the province’s mental health and addictions beds have a “very low occupancy rate” because there aren’t enough doctors to treat people in a reasonable amount of time.

“Instead of looking at potentially shutting down a valuable program like Beacon House, the McNeil government needs to address the underlying issue - Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage,” said Lohr. “No one should be stuck waiting over a month for their first appointment.”

An advisory committee made up of subject matter experts in Mental Health and Addictions, in close collaboration with the IWK health Centre, and representatives from other programs and agencies, is still reviewing in detail the information, department spokesperson Maureen Wheller indicated.

No recommendations have been accepted or rejected, and ultimately any put forward will have to be endorsed by Department of Health and Wellness, and NSHA and IWK senior leadership, she said.


Did you know? 

The Beacon Program is for young adults ages 18 to 35 who are living with mental illness and want to make changes in their lives. The six-bed residence emphasizes growth and recovery programming.

It is located on the grounds of Valley Regional Hospital, but is available to people from anywhere in Nova Scotia. People who come to the program typically stay about six months.

In Middleton, the 28-day structured treatment program at Soldiers Memorial Hospital has been in operation since 1978.