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Old 12-18-2015, 10:23 AM   #1
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Riverview to re-open as mental health hub

It's a Christmas miracle!

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The B.C. government announced plans Thursday to invest $175 million to revamp Coquitlam’s Riverview lands into a mixed-use community hub for mental health care.

The plan involves constructing two new buildings on the 244-acre site and relocating three mental health and substance abuse programs from Burnaby. It was lauded as a first step by municipal officials who have long pushed to have Riverview re-established as a modern centre for mental health, addiction and homelessness services.

The old Riverview mental health hospital, which was first opened in 1913 and once included a 4,000-bed hospital, grew to a peak of 4,726 patients in 1955 before being phased out in 2012. The site’s heritage buildings were most recently been used as the setting for film and TV productions, while discussions continued between the province, Kwikwetlem First Nation and city of Coquitlam about its future.

“We’re most pleased,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said. “People have been calling for the re-establishment of a critical mass of mental health services on the site that has held provincial mental health services for 100 years.”

Health Minister Terry Lake said the province will construct the new buildings by 2019, including a 105-bed mental health facility to replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, and a new facility to accommodate the 28-bed Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre and the 10-bed Provincial Assessment Centre. The services are now located at Burnaby’s Willingdon Lands. The site will also include social and market housing.

The services are part of an overall vision for a mental health care district, with doctors’ offices and transitional housing, and is intended to complement a “system of care that wraps around the patient,” according to the provincial government. This includes a new 75-bed mental health facility at the redeveloped Royal Columbian Hospital site, slated to open in 2019, as well as an outreach team, intensive case management team for youth and community treatment teams established in the Lower Mainland.

“This has been a site for helping vulnerable people for a very long time,” Lake said. “Our hope is to provide a continuum of care so that people can move through the more acute stages of their illness into transition and then back into the community.”

Lake noted the former hospital’s services had been spread out through B.C., and new construction on the site is to be part of what the provincial government is calling a health district. The province this year renovated the Brookside and Hillside buildings at Riverview, operated by Coast Mental Health, to accommodate 40 new beds for severely addicted mentally ill patients.

“A lot of the people we see today in our communities, in the old days would have been locked behind bars,” Lake said, citing a recent University of B.C. study of former patients that concluded that the transition to community care was successful. “We all agree as a society, and the law also agreed, that was not the way to treat people. There are some people who need secure acute institutionalized care, we recognize that, but we also know that people can live an independent life with the right community supports.”

Deborah Conner, executive director of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, said mental health advocates were hoping for more. The society had argued that keeping Riverview mainly for the mentally ill would keep people from the hazards of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“We and our partners have been working collectively to have this land set aside for mental heath; not just part of it,” she said. “We would like to see an appropriate portion of the land being used that would cover all aspects of the mental health paradigm.”

Michael Krausz, a professor with the University of B.C.’s psychiatry department, agreed, saying while the announcement was a relief, “it’s still very limited capacity given the number of clients in this province.”

“You just have to take a walk in the Downtown Eastside,” he said.

Stewart agreed the announcement was a “baby step” and more must be done for mental health services. Coquitlam city council last year endorsed a report that would see the Riverview site restored to provide mental health care services, rehabilitation programs for addicts and serve as an acute care hospital for the region.

Stewart noted the only place mentally ill people can go in a crisis is Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, which is a highly constrained site and does not even have a specific emergency or psychiatric ward for those suffering from mental health problems.

“We need an enormous shift in the way we consider mental health and addiction. There is a huge demand for this in the region,” Stewart said. “Establishing it in a new facility and in a situation more conducive to the healing process is really important. The grounds around Riverview are 244 acres of forest and arboretum that really is site-suitable to the asylum element of mental health treatment.”

Krausz said it makes sense to have a series of tertiary care capacity systems in one location, noting it allows for a range of expertise and quality for issues around physical and mental health and substance abuse. This was already happening in Burnaby, he said, but agreed with Stewart that Coquitlam residents don’t have a not-in-my-backyard attitude to mental health services in the neighbourhood, and this would hugely benefit patients.

“It reduces the stigma,” he said. “People living there are welcoming of health care institutions and often that’s not the case. It’s even more positive if there’s a welcoming attitude.”

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said no specific plans have yet been made for market and other types of housing development on the site.
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:30 AM   #2
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Love riding my Grom through here. Its like a mini Touge track...
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:35 AM   #3
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One of the rare times that I give a thumbs up to Crusty Clark and the Liberals for using health facilities to help people with mental health problems.

I would have been pissed if the province sold that land to property developers to build condos.
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:39 AM   #4
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My sister currently works there at the substance abuse centre so she will be thrilled to hear this
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:55 AM   #5
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i never really understood why canada and the USA chose to phase out mental health facilities. and then the mis mash of other treatment avenues eventually lost most of their funding. so many people who should be in a treatment facility ended up homeless, in jail, or in and out of the hospital.
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RRxtar View Post
i never really understood why canada and the USA chose to phase out mental health facilities. and then the mis mash of other treatment avenues eventually lost most of their funding. so many people who should be in a treatment facility ended up homeless, in jail, or in and out of the hospital.
Mental health facilities were and are expensive. The reason why they were shut down is largely due to the pharmaceutical industry and prescription drugs to treat mental disorders. The make a long story short, it's easier and cheaper to prescribe drugs than it is to have long term cognitive treatment.
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:22 AM   #7
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We got a call about 2 months ago to go do some patch and repair to the existing so they could get a few buildings open.

I get back to the office from a meeting and this is my conversation with my my Jr. Estimator.

Him: "I have to go to River View".
Me: "Uh ok, why"
Him: "I got a call from someone they said they needed me to meet them at Riverview at Noon to look at a job".
Me: "Ok, who called you?"
Him: "Not sure"
Me: "Well from what company?"
Him: "Uhhhh I don't know"
Me: "So let me get this straight, you got a call from someone you don't know who called you up out of the blue and wants you to meet them at the shut down loonie bin at noon. You have no idea who you're meeting or where they work?"
Him: "yeah, pretty much"
Me: "Sounds legit, if you don't return I'll call your family".
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRS View Post
Mental health facilities were and are expensive. The reason why they were shut down is largely due to the pharmaceutical industry and prescription drugs to treat mental disorders. The make a long story short, it's easier and cheaper to prescribe drugs than it is to have long term cognitive treatment.
Not quite sure how true your statement about drugs > therapy is as I can see some issues arising due to that. But if we are going into that direction, there are some enormous issues that will arise.
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:46 AM   #9
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Not quite sure how true your statement about drugs > therapy is as I can see some issues arising due to that. But if we are going into that direction, there are some enormous issues that will arise.
I'm not saying that drugs are a better treatment option vs. therapy. I'm merely stating the cost benefit of it and how governments see it.

I would argue that drugs alone isn't a viable option let alone a better plan than therapy. I believe it would need to be a combination of the those and even then I would have to argue that individualized treatment is the best form of treatment.
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Old 12-18-2015, 12:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CRS View Post
I'm not saying that drugs are a better treatment option vs. therapy. I'm merely stating the cost benefit of it and how governments see it.

I would argue that drugs alone isn't a viable option let alone a better plan than therapy. I believe it would need to be a combination of the those and even then I would have to argue that individualized treatment is the best form of treatment.
My apologies. I wasn't specific enough in my wording. Cost benefit is definitely and issue that is hard to tackle. What I was implying was the issues that may arise if we further seek drug treatment over therapy. Research also agrees with you -- there is a substantially higher recovery rate with therapy than there is with drugs. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out why that's the case.
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:18 PM   #11
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^ Because drugs don't cure, they are only a control mechanism. For the most part.
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