An Alberta Health Services residential facility that provides safe detoxification services with 24-hour care has been moved from downtown Edmonton to a mental health facility on the city’s far northeast outskirts.
The Addiction Recovery Centre (ARC) on the corner of 103 Avenue and 107 Street temporarily moved to Alberta Hospital on Fort Road and 174 Avenue on Wednesday, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed.
The facility provides a place for people to stabilize their health, be assessed, receive referrals, attending information sessions and be introduced to self help groups, and take part in addiction treatment planning with addiction counselors.
Construction from the west leg of the Valley Line LRT had the potential to affect quality of patient care at the centre, AHS said, which is why the decision to temporarily move patient services was made.
“This decision was made after careful analysis of the risks and impacts of construction activity in close proximity to the ARC,” Williamson said in a statement.
“Many relocation options were explored, and it was determined that (Alberta Hospital) will offer patients the smoothest transition and best care based on their needs. AHS will continue to provide support to all clients and external partners to ensure a successful transition,” the statement said.
The move was planned last year and physicians were made aware of it two weeks ago, according to Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room physician at the nearby Royal Alexandra Hospital.
“This move is ‘temporary,’ but has an indefinite timeline,” Mithani said on Twitter Wednesday morning. “Another example of how the most vulnerable patients in our city are not made a priority.
“It’s been quietly done with a hope that no one would make a stink. We will make one.”
The new, temporary space at Alberta Hospital Edmonton was renovated with ARC’s clients in mind, AHS said, and the upgrades included new flooring and paint, increased shower capacity, and new furnishings.
“The move will allow ARC to not only continue its incredible work, but to advance and grow as a program in a dedicated space,” Williamson said.
AHS said patients will be offered the same quality of care, resources and safety at Alberta Hospital, in addition to increased programming spaces and “a robust transportation department to support patient access.”
Williamson said a transportation team at Alberta Hospital will work with community partners to assist clients that need help getting a ride to and from the facility in the far northeast, adding there’s a fleet of passenger vans and small busses that can provide critical transportation services.
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Mithani noted on Twitter it would take about an hour and several transfers, either just busses or a combination that also includes the LRT, for someone to take transit from the city’s core to Alberta Hospital.
Global News was able to confirm that using Google Maps and the ETS Trip Planner website.
“Imagine battling a substance use disorder, having to navigate 2-3 buses to get to ARC? This poses an insurmountable barrier to our most vulnerable,” Mithani tweeted.
Mithani also noted right now, patients who show up at her ER requesting detox services are taken to ARC via EMS, a few blocks away. Now, patients will need to travel several kilometres to the facility outside the northeast leg of Anthony Henday Drive.
AHS said a permanent location had not yet been selected, but work is underway to determine the program’s future home.