Maple Ridge Councillor Dr. Bob Masse would like Riverview Hospital re-opened and turned into a centre of excellence for mental health.
In mid-September, municipal councillors from across the province will convene for their annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference, and one of the resolutions before them will be to re-open the facility.
Masse brought up the topic when a discussion came up at council about UBCM resolutions, and it was endorsed by all councillors.
And not only does he have the backing of his own council, he has spoken with one councillor in Coquitlam, where the now-closed facility resides, and she is on board as well.
The Seaton Commission of the late 1990s put into motion the closure of Riverview Hospital, which in its heyday housed 6,000 patients. The idea was to have services closer to where people lived.
Masse, who has a chiropractic office in Haney, said that he could see the impact when people with serious mental-health issues were no longer institutionalized.
"When this happened in the late 1990s, the effects were almost immediate," he said.
Since then, the mentally ill and addicted population is living in every municipality, including on the streets of Maple Ridge.
Re-opening Riverview Hospital as a centre of excellence would attract "excellent people" to the centre, Masse said.
With the moderate to severe mentally ill taken care of properly in this facility, it would free up community psychiatrists to take care of acute patients.
It would also take a burden off local hospitals, police, and social service agenies, Masse said.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said police are acting as front-line mental-health workers. When people with mental-health problems aren't being helped, it is costing the system in policing, bylaws, and health care costs, he added.
"There's 21st century ways of meeting the mental-health challenge," Daykin said.
The resolution was supported by all Maple Ridge councillors, and at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association meeting this spring.
@ Copyright 2013