Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Brennan Clarke
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Victoria police know the Archie Courtnall Centre isn't the best place
to drop off drug addicts they pluck from downtown streets. It's just
that there's no other option.

"Definitely the Courtnall Centre is over-serving addicted people, but
then again 60 to 70 per cent of people with addictions have mental
health problems," said Victoria police Insp. Darrell McLean, head of
the region's mental health crisis response team.

"Somehow you have to get at the root cause. You have to get them off
drugs or alcohol before you can find out if they have a mental health
issue or not."

McLean made those comments following the recent resignation of Dr.
Anthony Barale, the Vancouver Island Health Authority's clinical
director of psychiatric emergency services.

Barale, who was based at the Courtnall Centre, resigned in mid-August,
accusing VIHA of lacking the will power and resources to adequately
serve the needs of the addicted population, especially those with both
drug dependency and mental health problems.

McLean said the Courtnall Centre has been "a very big asset" for
police, but added that the centre is "not as well set up to deal with"
chronic addicts.

"There's a chronic group in this city of 50 to 100 people, maybe more,
who even though they need help they've been precluded due to
attributes that make them not good clients for the service," McLean
said, citing people with violent tendencies as an example.

"It's a compound problem that requires compound resources."

Alan Campbell, VIHA's director of mental health and addiction
services, said the problem isn't the Courtnall Centre's capacity as
much as the availability of treatment options for addicts on Vancouver

"Certainly people with mental illness and people with addictions were
on our radar for the whole (Courtnall Centre) fundraising campaign. So
to say it wasn't designed for that isn't true," he said.

"With addiction treatment there are fewer options to refer that person

VIHA spokesperson Suzanne Germain said the current supply of addiction
treatment beds on Vancouver Island consists of seven medically
supervised adult detox beds, 10 stabilization beds, 10 "longer term
recovery beds," and 20 beds at the recently opened sobering centre on
Pembroke Street.

This spring the provincial Health Ministry increased the number of
youth detox beds on the Island from five to 10.

In all, VIHA funds 134 addiction treatment beds, including supportive
living complexes such as the recently opened Blackwood Residential
Facility, which has 20 permanent beds.

Another such facility, Rockland Apartments, is slated to provide 32
additional beds when it opens in late 2006 or early 2007, Campbell

VIHA also funds more than 550 beds for people with mental illnesses
who can't live on their own, with more on the way, Campbell said.

In the meantime, efforts are under-way to improve the way the
Courtnall Centre does business.

Campbell said the centre has hired another social worker to help link
people with "external resources."

VIHA is also looking at other solutions, both "in the hospital and in
the broader community."

The problems of homelessness, addiction, poverty and mental illness
can't be solved by the health authority alone.

"It is something where we need a whole bunch of players involved,"
Campbell said.

"The Courtnall Centre is doing us all a great service by identifying
where the gaps are."

The $2.2-million facility, built entirely with money raised by the
Courtnall family, bears the name of their father, who took his own
life in 1978. 
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