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Kingston’s Providence Care is getting squeezed by more than bed reductions associated with the outdated planning associated with new semi-privatized replacement hospital.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.