Local 152 President Kim McDowell in St. Thomas yesterday with OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
To be a patient here you not only have to have a mental disorder, but to have come in conflict with the law.
The Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care opened in St. Thomas last year as the first phase of a two-part restructuring of mental health services in the region. The second part, a new psychiatric hospital in London, is expected to open in 2015. Both are public-private partnerships (P3), placing a private corporation in charge of the facilities but not the clinical services delivered within them.
Touring the facility yesterday with OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Local 152 President Kim McDowell, we asked about worker safety in the new building as a specific concern was being raised about a door to a seclusion room that forced staff to bend over to look through a waist-high opening used to pass through medications.
Despite its forensic designation, this may possibly be the safest psychiatric hospital in the province. As we were told, there are very few “codes” here – codes being emergency broadcasts used within the hospital to summons help or raise an alert.
LONDON – Five staff at Regional Mental Health London are doing what they can to prepare the last of their 60 remaining clients for the closure of Andrew’s Resource Centre – a workshop that provides basic employment and helps individuals with mental illness to seek jobs in the broader community.
In recent weeks they have been helping clients with resumes, organizing job fairs and polishing up their interview skills knowing it’s going to get a lot tougher for these individuals when the centre closes its doors for the last time at the end of March.
It’s not easy to get a job when you have a severe mental illness and the five staff worry that many of their clients will become isolated when they no longer have the centre to come to.
A friend, a job, a home – these are the building blocks for successful rehabilitation, yet two of three of these blocks are now at risk.
None of the five staff even think to talk about their own futures. Between them they have about 200 years of experience, but amid a growing mental health crisis they too are being told their work is no longer needed.