March 21, 2017

Wildrose questions AHS decision to unilaterally shut down Alberta hospital inpatient beds

New information about the closure of 20 inpatient beds at the Alberta Hospital Edmonton (AHE) highlights serious concerns about mental health services available for Albertans, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

Documents obtained by Wildrose outline the surprise of physicians and multi-disciplinary teams at the AHE when administrators unilaterally decided to remove 20 beds that AHE psychiatrists stated in an open letter are for “the chronic and severely mentally ill patients who are waiting for essential services in order for successful transition into community.

According to the documents, the closure of the 20 mental health beds will be replaced with 20 emergency room beds at the Royal Alexandra Hospital which in the words of the psychiatrists will “devolve into a greater backlog of acutely mentally ill, suicidal and agitated patients in already overcrowded emergency rooms.

“Our emergency rooms are already overcrowded and the abrupt closure of these beds is bad for patients, creates further strain on our system and will lead to increased costs long-term,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “It’s deeply disappointing to know that front line workers at Alberta Hospital Edmonton have reached out to both Alberta Health Services and the Health Minister with no response to date on this important issue.”

According to AHE psychiatrists, these are the most difficult to house psychiatric patients who often have to wait in transitional beds for months before suitable housing and placement can be secured.

“Vulnerable Albertans with mental health needs deserve better than this treatment from AHS and the Minister,” Wildrose Shadow Mental Health Minister Mark Smith said. “I urge the Minister to stop this heavy-handed decision until she has consulted with front line staff to consider other alternatives that won’t put mental health care in jeopardy.”


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