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HomeNewsNorth Bay hospital workers begin campaign to save 29 addictions beds

North Bay hospital workers begin campaign to save 29 addictions beds

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Visitors and patients at the North Bay Regional Health Centre will see front-line employees wearing black and yellow stickers all day Tuesday.

The stickers say “Save North Bay addiction services” and are in response to employees getting word that funding for the in-hospital residential services will end in either May or June of this year.

Michael Hurley, the President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, says once the 29 beds are shutdown, the government plans to have the affected patients treated through the local hospital’s outpatient treatment program.

However, Hurley says this is an inferior replacement.

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“In-hospital residential treatment allows (patients) to get away from a home environment where there may be other people using drugs or alcohol or people who may enable their drug addictions or alcoholism,” Hurley said.

“So they’re subject to all these stresses that exist in a family setting.”

Hurley says under the in-hospital residential program, patients get individual counselling, and are in an environment where they get the kind of attention that’s needed for them “to confront their addiction successfully.”

Additionally, Hurley points out statistics show the chances of people on drugs or who are dependent on alcohol have less chance of returning to the dependency when they are part of an in-hospital residential setting as opposed to being in an out-patient program.

Hurley says there’s time to reverse the government decision on closing the addictions beds given the late spring deadline.

He says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is a very influential politician “and if he puts his mind to it, he can save these jobs”.

Hurley says the black and yellow stickers are the first of several initiatives to save the addictions beds.

He says at the end of the month OCHU will hold an electronic town hall meeting where North Bay residents with landlines will be called asking if they will take part in a one-hour teleconference call explaining the upcoming closure.

Hurley says this format was used locally on another health issue a while back and 1,500 people participated.

He expects a similar number to take part in the upcoming electronic phone meeting.

The call will focus on the problem at hand and what residents can do to help keep the beds open.

Hurley says the week of January 13th will see the start of a petition to save the beds and then a large rally is planned around the end of February to draw attention to the bed closures.

Hurley says the location for the rally hasn’t been determined yet.

He personally prefers holding it in front of Fedeli’s Main Street East office but given the recent downtown fire on Main forcing the office to relocate, Hurley says it’s a question of whether a rally can be held safely at the MPP’s new site.

If not, then the rally may take place on hospital grounds.

Hurley feels optimistic that the government decision to end funding for the beds can be reversed.

He adds the beds serve an important role in the region because according to the North East Local Health Integration Network, there is a higher rate of addictions in Northern Ontario than in Southern Ontario.


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