The temporary closure of Moncton’s detox centre is one sign pointing to a bigger problem, according to one of the city’s front-line workers.
Lisa Ryan, senior director of YMCA of Greater Moncton’s Outreach Programs and Services, says there’s already too much strain on the health system, pointing to her experience operating the city’s emergency Out of the Cold shelter on Assomption Boulevard this winter.
“We have housed people now since Dec. 1, and I don’t believe any of them have been accepted into a mental health system as of yet,” she said.
She says it can be challenging when any additional barriers are put before someone who is trying to get help.
“There’s a window of opportunity. Generally, it lasts not much longer than 24 hours,” she said. “In that window, there needs to be (few) to no barriers for them to encounter.”
“Once an individual encounters a barrier, they tend to shut down.”
The centre officially closes for three months starting Monday as it undergoes about $250,000 of work to replace its HVAC and sprinkler systems.
During the closure of the 20-bed inpatient detoxification unit on Mapleton Road, Horizon Health Network is opening five beds at the Moncton Hospital.
“We’ve also made arrangements with Fredericton, Saint John and Miramichi, who will keep two beds each for clients who may want to come from Moncton,” said Jill LeBlanc-Farquharson, the director of addictions and mental health for Horizon Health Network.
“It’s a little bit of short-term pain for long-term gain,” she said.
She says Horizon is covering the costs of transportation, and Vitalité Health Network could also provide assistance if needed.
But Ryan says mothers who are trying to get through detox and get their kids through foster care might not want to leave the community.
“Even if it’s for a service that would help them better themselves, they will generally stick to trying to access that service in the city because they feel they need to be close to their families,” she said. “I see this as a barrier to them.”
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Ryan says that nurses, hospital staff and the entire health system are strained, but something has to be done.
“I really believe our province needs to ask: ‘OK, so how do we increase those services?’ Because if we’re running into fatigue with our employees but we’re also not providing services to those who need it most, something needs to change or we’re going to continue to see things get worse,” she said.