KENTVILLE, NS – Progressive Conservative MLA John Lohr is urging the Liberal government to keep Beacon House in Kentville up-and-running, despite a recent report that recommends shutting it down.
The CBC recently obtained an internal report commissioned by the Nova Scotia Health Authority that recommends closing the stand-alone treatment centre for people with severe, ongoing mental illness. The report also recommends closing inpatient detox units in Pictou, Springhill, Cape Breton and the Strait-Richmond area, in favour of day treatment programs.
Health Minister Leo Glavine told media last week there is no current plan to close any of Nova Scotia’s mental health and addictions beds, 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 said 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,” says 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,” says Lohr. “No one should be stuck waiting over a month for their first appointment.”
“I am in favour of keeping Beacon House open,” says Lohr. “People suffering from mental health and addictions shouldn’t be left with day programs as their only option. Beacon House provides a critical service to patients, and it should continue to do so.”