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‘Deplorable’ Saint John, N.B., addiction treatment centre set for upgrades

Click to play video: 'Saint John addiction treatment centre to get makeover after funding'
Saint John addiction treatment centre to get makeover after funding
A crumbling addiction treatment center in Saint John is now set to receive a much needed makeover. New funding announced today will create a safe environment for people using Ridgewood Addiction Services -- while also modernizing the equipment on-site. Robert Lothian reports – Jul 25, 2022

Built over 75 years ago, units at Ridgewood Addiction Services in Saint John are riddled with rusty holes, chipped paint and decrepit windows – and that’s only the exterior.

However, the aging facility is set to receive $3.8 million in refurbishments and upgrades through a combined investment by the provincial government, Horizon Health Network and the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation, announced on Monday.

Each stakeholder has committed to contributing $1.27 million.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch allowed his predecessor, Minister of Social Development Dorothy Shephard, to announce the funding, stating she worked hard to make it happen.

“It is partnerships like these between levels of government and the community that can bring about much-needed change and better services to support those who need it,” Shephard said at her first announcement since being ousted from the health file.

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The funds will overhaul three facilities currently used to deliver critical detoxification and rehabilitation programs. Currently, clients using these services are forced to stay in shared spaces or pod systems.

Three rehabilitation units at Ridgewood Addiction Services will see upgrades. Robert Lothian / Global News
Units at the treatment centre have rusty holes along the exterior. Robert Lothian / Global News

“The feedback I’ve received from my colleagues has consistently reported that the physical environment is not welcoming and the state of the building is deplorable and that makes them feel less than adequate,” said Fitch.

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According to Jean Daigle, the vice-president community at Horizon Health Network, once refurbished, the buildings will be modernized, including private rooms and therapy rooms.

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In a regular month, 50 clients are admitted to a withdrawal unit for a variety of reasons that include alcohol addiction, opiate dependencies and gambling.

“I think what we’re hearing very clearly from our patients and families is that there’s no debate about the quality of the service they receive from a therapeutic perspective, but definitely the conditions of the building, it leaves a lot to be desired,” said Daigle.

He later stated they plan to strip the buildings down to the foundation before modelling the next structures.

When asked about whether future upgrades will be needed for other facilities on the property, Daigle said the newly announced upgrades are a good start, and they hope this builds a pathway to more investments in the future.

Investments will also enhance clinical service delivery within the rehabilitation unit, transitioning from a 28-day, addiction-focused, residential service to live-in, concurrent disorder treatment over 35 to 90 days.

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