Tag Archives: Kim McDowell

Mental Health: New St. Thomas Forensic hospital suggests planned environment and safety linked

Local 152 President Kim McDowell in St. Thomas yesterday with OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

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.

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