Tag Archives: Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health

Privately-developed London area mental health hospitals justified by massive “risk” calculations

Evaluating value-for-money on a privatized public infrastructure project has always been a bit of a mugs game. A value-for-money (VFM) assessment is produced every time the province engages the private sector in the building of public infrastructure such as hospitals, court houses, or recreation facilities.

The problem with these assessments is they are always done by an organization that has everything to gain by making the assessment support the privatized option. Given these value for money calculations are usually done after the deals are signed, it would be very embarrassing for government to show otherwise.

These assessments were formerly done directly by Infrastructure Ontario (IO), but given IO’s mandate to engage the private sector in such projects, it was felt they failed the test of unbiased independence. A look at the Auditor General of Ontario’s review of one of their earlier projects – the William Osler Health Centre – would suggest IO got quite creative in justifying a project that looks to have cost taxpayers at least $400 million more than had the government taken a more conventional approach to financing and operating the hospital.

After it was acknowledged that perhaps IO wasn’t independent enough, business consultants like KPMG were asked to do this work. Unfortunately these business consultants were also members of the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, and therefore, also subject to criticism of bias. Now a third-party is engaged to evaluate the “fairness” of these evaluations prepared by KPMG and others. These “fairness monitors” are often themselves involved in the world of public-private partnerships, and therefore far from impartial.

Continue reading

St. Thomas forensic mental health centre opens with fanfare and problems

The bright and shiny new Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health has opened in St. Thomas with much fanfare and more than a few problems.

The new building may “fight stigma,” as its proponents say, but a bowl of the cafeteria’s soup will cost a lot more for patients, staff and visitors and a glitch in the computerized security system is creating more than a few security headaches. Nor are there enough beds to facilitate the transfer of all eligible patients from the regional detention centre.

The building is the first of two new privatized regional mental health facilities to open in the London area. During the June 14 opening ceremonies officials praised the architecture, noting it reflects a new level of respect for the hospital’s occupants. The second and larger of the two mental health hospitals will open in London for 2015.

The two mental health facilities are being built as public-private partnerships, which means that in addition to the design and construction being provided by the private sector, 30-year maintenance and financing is also part of the deal. Facilities maintenance can include elevator maintenance, electrical and mechanical systems, ventilation systems and other similar work.

After less than a week in the new facility — patients were not transferred into the building until June 19 — employees are already frustrated by the wristband system that is supposed to monitor and control the whereabouts of patients.

Forensic patients are those who have arrived at the hospital following a tangle with the justice system. They have either been found unfit to stand trial, or the court has deemed them to be not criminally responsible for their actions. Contrary to the stereotype, more than 90 per cent of forensic patients are there as a result of non-violent incidents.

The wristband system is supposed to reflect the individual restrictions placed on these patients by the Ontario Review Board (ORB). However, the new security system is allowing patients with much broader security clearance to bring their much more restricted buddies through doors they are not meant to travel through.

Continue reading