Overcapacity issues leaving mental health patients behind

Overcapacity issues continue to plague the healthcare system and it’s making life harder for those trying to get proper mental health support.

“We have been constantly raising concerns about beds at the Irene and Leslie Dube Centre for Mental Health not being available because it is consistently overcapacity, but these concerns have not been taken seriously by the Sask. Party,” said NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier. “Having patients with mental health challenges languish in emergency rooms or having multiple overnight stays in temporary ‘pods’ is not helpful, nor is it acceptable.”

Candace Middleton can attest to the struggle that mental health patients go through while trying to get treatment.

Middleton was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder about 20 years ago, and last December she sought emergency treatment at Royal University Hospital. The hospital recognized she was not well and did not want to discharge her, so they gave her the option of staying at a group home in Saskatoon or being sent to the Humboldt Hospital because, she was told, no beds were available. After more than a week of waiting in a group home and then the Emergency Department again, she was finally admitted to the Dube Centre. She was placed in a ‘pod’ in the basement of the facility, from where she and other patients were moved daily at 5:30 am to the facility’s common area because the space is used for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and needed to be cleaned for the day’s ECT patients. She spent over two months in the Dube Centre receiving treatment, but only spent four days in a room actually designed for patient stays.

“As a frequent client of the mental health system with an admission earlier this year it has become quite noticeable about just how badly the system is failing us as consumers,” Middleton said. “The fact that patients in the Dube Centre are being admitted into a pod in the ECT suite due to a lack of beds on the units is unacceptable. Patient care has been falling to the wayside and there needs to be more attention given to the needs and safety of clients.”

“The Dube Centre has been overcapacity for years, which means more and more people have been experiencing what Candace has gone through” Chartier said. “It’s long past time for the Sask. Party to find ways to alleviate the pressure at the Dube Centre. Ensuring an adequate number of community supports, including social workers, psychiatric nurses and psychologists, are available would be a good start.”