KINGSTON -- Cuts to Providence Care Mental Health Services
are impacting the safety of both staff and patients in their care.
Staff who provide care to patients are marching outside
their workplace on Friday, February 1 from 11 am to 1 pm to demand both
management and area politicians begin to address the deteriorating
conditions at the hospital.
Without long promised community alternatives, the
psychiatric hospital is facing overcrowded units, cuts to programming and
budget-driven understaffing that are creating a very volatile situation
inside. Two additional units are expected to close this year, taking another
60 beds out of use and reducing staffing further.
"When Providence Care is rebuilt, few realize that the new
hospital will have a considerably reduced capacity," says Warren (Smokey)
Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees
Union. "The cuts come at a time when demand for mental health services is on
the rise. Where will these patients go? Many in our care cannot be easily
transferred to the community."
OPSEU members working say administrators are more concerned
about the image of the hospital than resolving the problems inside.
That includes the need for proper risk assessments on units
where both patient-on-patient and patient-on-staff assaults have taken
place, resulting in unnecessary staff injuries that are now subject to
investigation by the Ministry of Labour.
"It is not the patients who are responsible for the
situation, but a province that has severely eroded mental health care in
this community," says Thomas. "We already know what the answers are - why
are we still waiting for Ontario to take action and adopt the broader
strategy outlined by the Mental Health Commission of Canada?"