Provincial agency takes over Kingston Addiction and Mental Health Services due to mismanagement
The organization that oversees provincial health-care spending has assumed control of Addiction and Mental Health Services in Kingston.
On Wednesday, the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) announced that they would appoint a supervisor to oversee the agency. This comes after the Kingston mental health organization lost its top two executives, CEO Don Seymour and the director of client, family and community engagement, Lorraine Reynolds.
It is currently unclear whether those executives left on their own accord or if they were let go.
Late last year, the South East LHIN was prompted to investigate Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services’ financial and clinical practices.
According to Paul Huras, CEO of the South East LHIN, one specific request from the Kingston agency prompted the review.
“One of our first concerns was a request for an additional $1 million, that’s what really caused us to put in an investigator,” said Huras.
The South East LHIN provides $15 million in funding per year to the Kingston branch alone. All three Addiction and Mental Health Services branches in the region had recently gone through a redesign, and Huras said that the Kingston branch had already received quite a lot of funding during that redesign process.
A 160-page report was published from that review process in May 2018, listing several detailed recommendations to improve financial and clinical governance. Come September, the LHIN saw that Kingston had not implemented those recommendations.
So over a week ago, the LHIN decided to transfer funding for the Addiction and Mental Health Service’s “shared services office,” also referred to as the “regional back office” to the Hastings Prince Edward branch.
This back office, which employs up to 30 people, is based out of Kingston, but manages administrative services for all three branches of Addiction and Mental Health in the region.
“Part of the investigation said that there were some problems with the functioning with that back office,” said Huras. He added that the other two regional agencies were “very disappointed in how they were being served by this back office.”
Huras couldn’t comment about how many of those working in the Kingston regional back office would keep their jobs in the move to the Prince Edward and Hasting branch. He did say that the loss of these Kingston-based jobs were in addition to a previous 22 layoffs in early October.
WATCH: Addiction and Mental Health Services in the Kingston area layoff staff
The funding change will be effective January 2019.
All in all, the fate of the Kingston agency is in the hands of the yet-to-be-appointed supervisor.
Vice-chair for Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services board of directors, Karen Humphreys Blake, says the supervisor will take over soon.
“It’s likely the supervisor will be appointed… as soon as Dec. 3.”
Despite the history of turbulent management, Huras said the LHIN has confidence in the current board’s ability to keep serving its clients.
Nevertheless, Huras said that once a supervisor is appointed, they will go through a thorough investigation of the agency, and will have the power to decide who stays and goes.
“The supervisor’s role is to take over the organization. The board will continue to exist and the CEO could continue to exist at the discretion of the supervisor, but [the supervisor] could make the decision that either could change.”
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