Hillsborough Hospital needs to go, says Currie

Prince Edward Island health minister calls pyschiatric facility an out-of-date building

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 10, 2014
Hillsborough Hospital

The province is looking to replace the aging Hillsborough Hospital, says Health Minister Doug Currie.

Currie told The Guardian Thursday the province’s in-patient psychiatric facility has served the P.E.I. well but is clearly out of date.

“It’s 100 years old,’’ he says.

Currie agrees with the harsh assessment made by Margaret Kennedy, the director of mental health and addictions with Health P.E.I.

In an interview with The Guardian Wednesday, Kennedy described the facility as “antiquated’’ and “no longer able to meet the standards of care that are required.’’

Currie says over the past six months the province has been exploring how to replace the 69-bed facility.

“We have already looked at other facilities, what they look like, how they integrate with other levels of care,’’ he says.

However, Currie cautions that finding a replacement for Hillsborough Hospital is very much in the preliminary stage.

“It will not be replaced over night,’’ he says. “That’s a big policy decision by government.’’

Currie says his greatest concern with the mental health system in P.E.I. today is access. More needs to be done, he notes, to make the process more efficient to help people access the supports they need. An improved intergovernmental approach is also needed, he said.

“There has to be a better interface,’’ he says.

Currie responded to criticism that he and his government continue to study to death what is largely seen as a growing mental health and addictions crisis in the province.

“I’m not a big fan of studies that sit on the shelves,’’ he says.

Currie highlighted the fact that his government earlier this year spent $1.2 million in new initiatives to deal with prescription drug addiction in the province and appointed a specialist to come up with a long-term strategy to improve mental health and addictions services.

He says that specialist, Dr. Rhonda Matters, in her capacity of the newly created chief mental health and addictions officer, has been working since the first of November examining this difficult issue. He expects an update from Matters in the near future, which he will in turn make public.

“It’s a very complex file...not one size fits all,’’ says Currie. “It’s not about a quick solution.’’