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‘It’s a life filled with chaos and confusion’: clients of AMHS speak out against agency changes

Click to play video: 'Former clients and employees of AMHS speak out about ‘dysfunction’ within the agency' Former clients and employees of AMHS speak out about ‘dysfunction’ within the agency
Over 20 former and current clients and employees of Addiction and Mental Health Services-Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (AMHS-KFLA) came together in Napanee to voice their concerns with the agency – Apr 29, 2019

Many clients of Addiction and Mental Health Services for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (AMHS-KFLA) say they are feeling left-behind by the recent changes at the agency.

“It’s a life filled with chaos and confusion and I don’t know where to turn,” said John McGraw, a current client of of the addictions and mental health agency.

WATCH: Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services restructuring to include more layoffs

Click to play video: 'Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services restructuring to include more layoffs' Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services restructuring to include more layoffs
Kingston’s Addiction and Mental Health Services restructuring to include more layoffs – Mar 27, 2019

In 2017, the South East Local Heath Integrated Network (LHIN) conducted an investigation into AMHS-KFL&A and found that the agency had significant clinical, financial, leadership and accountability issues. Shortly after the report was released, several top executives were laid-off along with layoffs of full time employees.

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In late March, the LHIN-appointed supervisor announced major restructuring at the agency, including numerous more layoffs.

On Monday afternoon, a crowd of 20 or so people, made up of former and current employees and clients, gathered in the basement of Morningstar Mission in downtown Napanee to voice their concerns with the recent overhaul of the agency.

Krysta-Lee Woodcock, one of the organizers of the meetup, said the event came after she spoke with a number of former clients who felt that had been kicked to the curb by AMHS KFL&A.

Woodcock continued on to say that she recently lost her mental health services at the agency, forcing her to reach out her former psychotherapist, Penny Robertson, who has been retired for four years.

READ MORE: Provincial agency takes over Kingston Addiction and Mental Health Services due to mismanagement

Robertson, who used to work for AMHS, was one of five people who sat in-front of the room and answered questions from concerned AMHS-KFL&A clients. Many of those clients live in the Napanee area, and had to commute to Kingston in order to receive treatment, but because of the transformation in recent months, many of them feel their issues are being ignored.

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READ MORE: Provincial agency takes over Kingston Addiction and Mental Health Services due to mismanagement

In a written statement to Global news, AMHS- KFL&A said, “The changes in our models of care and staffing complement and require the recruitment of a number of union, non-union and management roles to our workforce.”

They continued on to say that the changes were “good news for clients, their families and the community as [they] will be able to provide access to high-quality services based on an evidence-informed clinical care model.”

Nevertheless, on Monday, Robertson told the crowd that the changes to the agency were not founded on what the community needs, but rather, focused primarily on financial concerns.

The statement from the agency suggested any client who has concerns to contact the agency’s client care line.

WATCH: Front line staff attest to client neglect due to staffing cuts at AMHS-KFLA

Click to play video: 'Front line staff attest to client neglect due to staffing cuts at AMHS-KFLA' Front line staff attest to client neglect due to staffing cuts at AMHS-KFLA
Front line staff attest to client neglect due to staffing cuts at AMHS-KFLA – Dec 3, 2018

For her part, Woodcock is organizing a larger gathering with current and former clients at the Lions Club in downtown Napanee for May 27.

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She is hoping the event will attract local politicians who may be able to better understand the current need for addiction and mental health services in the area.

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