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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trauma services needed in hospitals

Health minister questioned by NDP about Coast story

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Former NDP minister of health David Wilson.
  • Former NDP minister of health David Wilson.

Capital Health is in the hot seat again following a recent Coast investigation. In question period at Province House yesterday, former health minister David Wilson asked current health minister Leo Glavine about concerns raised in The Coast’s “The always-on stalker” investigation, which Wilson said, “highlighted the need for trauma-informed services in our emergency rooms.”

A woman, known in the story as Kim, was seriously contemplating suicide and tried to access Capital Health’s adult emergency mental health services at the QEII. She was placed in a “freezing cold” holding room, repeatedly asked questions that triggered her PTSD and was told she wasn’t suicidal enough to be admitted. A male student doctor told her: "You've lasted 15 years with this, I'm sure you can last another 15.” He then gave Kim a prescription of 20 sleeping pills to be filled all at once. She left the hospital feeling worse than when she arrived.

Kim described the emergency services as a wall painted to look like a door. She said the service failed her. "When you are suicidal and things are made more difficult for you, you tend to give up,” she said.

“This is not a new issue,” Wilson said during question period. “The story of Rehtaeh Parsons and her experience at the IWK Hospital sparked a review of the child and adolescent mental health and addictions services in Capital Health.”

In 2013, an independent out-of-province expert, Dr. Jana Davidson, was appointed to review the IWK’s mental health care policies. She published 14 recommendations in December that year.

When the review came out, Glavine accepted all of the recommendations, Wilson said. “What recommendations, if any, are left to be implemented?” he asked.

Glavine said the trauma-informed approach is now in use at the IWK, a couple new child psychiatrists have been hired and teachers are being trained to deal with students’ mental health—but he didn’t mention the way the QEII deals with suicide risk, or say what plans, if any, the province has to remedy the experience Kim had there.

The QEII adult mental health care Kim tried to access was not part of Davidson’s mandate, however one of her recommendations may improve QEII services if implemented. Davidson recommended a standardized tool to measure suicide risk, and improved communication within the system so people at risk can better access care, even if they aren’t hospitalized.

Wilson asked when the 14 recommendations would be fully implemented. Glavine responded: “…Actually, some of the recommendations were an assessment of where we are, as far as, I guess, in comparison to developments in Canada. However, others will be worked on during our mandate, and we're hoping to have a couple of announcements coming very soon that deal with the recommendations made in the report done by Dr. Davidson.”

At The Coast, we’re on the edge of our seats about the minister’s upcoming announcements. We’ll be following this story as it develops.

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