Union cries foul over clinics’ evening closure 0
BC Nurses Union is shocked to learn the Fraser Health Authority is planning to phase out evening mental health clinics in at least six centres, at a time when police and local governments demand more support to the mentally ill. Burnaby Hospital, Burnaby, B.C.,Thursday August 29, 2013. (KEVIN HILL/ 24 HOURS)
The union representing B.C. nurses is outraged the Fraser Health Authority will close all evening mental health clinics in the Lower Mainland next month.
“This is alarming to a system that’s already under-serving mental-health clients,” said BC Nurses’ Union president Debra McPherson. “These offer counselling, group sessions, in some cases medications, they provide that ongoing support for people who may not be able to get to a clinic in the daytime.”
Six area clinics currently stay open until 8 p.m. once or twice a week. All of them now will close at 4:30 p.m. starting in September.
McPherson said it’s shocking to see service cuts at a time when the chorus of voices calling for more support for B.C.’s mentally ill grows louder. Earlier this month, Canada’s police chiefs demanded more front-line help from health professionals and this week, metro mayors called for the reopening of Riverview Hospital amid concerns its closure last year left vulnerable patients without institutional support.
The B.C. Health Ministry declined to comment, referring all questions to the Fraser Health Authority. The latter confirmed evening clinics will close, saying it needed to reshuffle nursing staff to daytime shifts to boost capacity of a system already struggling to meet demand.
“Evening services will be discontinued, yes,” said Denyse Houde, the authority’s mental health and addictions director. “We need all of our resources present Monday to Friday during daytime hours when most of our clients are accessing services.”
Using White Rock as an example, Houde said the closure will affect just 12 out of 925 mental health patients. The move will also do away with the biweekly days off nursing staff at the evening clinics currently enjoy.
“It’s hard to lose that day off for sure,” she said. “But we will definitely increase our capacity.”