Terry Haffner with the stump of the tree planted in his father’s memory.
“It felt like digging up his grave,” said Terry Haffner.
A housekeeper at Kingston’s Providence Care, Haffner was disturbed to find a memorial garden to long-serving staff had been cut down and the plaques removed by the hospital without any notice to the families of the deceased or the union who had represented them.
One of those deceased staff members was Terry’s dad Neil, who had worked at the former Kingston Psychiatric hospital from 1961 to his retirement in 1993. Neil passed away in 1996.
When Neil’s tree was planted, his son kept it watered and tended in the early days until it grew hardy enough to withstand the extremes in weather so close to the lake.
It was Terry’s father who told him to apply for a job at the mental health centre in the 1980s. His dad recognized that the heavy construction work his son was doing at the time would be difficult to maintain as he got older. For many years they travelled to work together.
Protesting outside of Kingston’s Providence Care September 9.
KINGSTON – Tracey Newton has worked at the old Kingston Psychiatric Hospital for 25 years. In that time she has seen many changes, including the tightening of access to the hospital’s services for those in the community that need help.
She arrived early at McBurney Park on September 2nd for the local march and picnic celebrating Labour Day. As the labour activists arrived, the homeless departed the park, including some of her former patients who had clearly spent the night there.
In our heightened skeptical age it is too convenient to dismiss workers as being self-interested, but it was clear speaking with Newton yesterday that the encounter was upsetting. With another 40 beds due to close, how many more former patients are now going to be sleeping rough?
The mantra in mental health has been community care, not institutional care. It has given the government the cover to make massive cuts to beds and outpatient services delivered by the province’s psychiatric hospitals.
It hasn’t meant replacing the scale and scope of these services in the community.
Kingston’s Providence Care is getting squeezed by more than bed reductions associated with the outdated planning associated with new semi-privatized replacement hospital.
They are seeing more developmentally disabled patients admitted to these beds, likely part of the consequence of closing the former Rideau Regional Centre in Smith’s Falls. Those patients too were supposed to be better off the in the community, but here they are.