Anger over closure

Hundreds spoke together as one collective voice last night, in an effort to change the fate of Alberta Hospital.

Hundreds spoke together as one collective voice last night, in an effort to change the fate of Alberta Hospital.

“We’re not an asylum, we’re not the housing institution of years gone by, we’re an integral part of the psychiatric services in our region,” said Alberta Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Krista Leicht.

Recently, Alberta Health Services president Dr. Stephen Duckett announced the impending closure of as many as 300 beds, pushing “low-risk” patients into established community programs.

Plans to renovate two aging buildings on the hospital’s property were abandoned in the days before the provincial deficit announcement.

Both decisions were made without public consultation.

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees officials say the surprise moves are budget-based, and may be an indication of closure in the hospital’s future.

Last night’s town hall meeting was an effort to put pressure on the government to reverse the decision, AUPE spokesman Mark Wells said.

Former patients publicly credited their lives to the facility last night.

Mental health advocate Michael Butler, whose wife was murdered by his mentally ill brother in 2007, pleaded with attendees to advocate for change.

“This is ridiculous. The government has to step up for the communities we live in,” he said.

Duckett recently made a commitment to keep bodies in beds until community resources are in place. Resources, AUPE officials say, don’t exist.

“Theoretical, not-yet-built so-called community beds aren’t the answer,” NDP MLA Rachel Notley said.
The group feels if patients are pushed out, many will end up in the judicial system or as a danger to themselves.

Of 1,700 patients admitted last year, 1,100 were readmitted. Demand already exceeds resources,

 
 
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