Thursday, July 17, 2008

Detox centre set for next year

Mattress detox will take the place of police cells or emergency rooms once a new Addictions Treatment Centre opens next year in downtown Regina.

The project is the result of the Regina & Area Drug Strategy Report, which identified the need for a stronger treatment continuum, said Dave Hedlund, executive director of mental health and addictions services for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"One part of which was the capacity to deal with people who are drunk or high at the time in a way that was more therapeutic as opposed to only using police cells or emergency rooms," Hedlund said. "That kind of service -- a place to sleep, to get cleaned up and to have a conversation hopefully in the morning about how you could start to think about turning your life around -- they usually refer to that as brief detox or mattress detox."

The new centre will replace the Detox Centre at 2839 Victoria Ave., and integrate services offered by Regina Recovery Homes and the region to help people recover from alcohol and drug addictions. Many individuals who will use the brief detox beds may need observation but not hospitalization, said Foster Monson, executive director of the Detox Centre.

Aside from the one- to three-day program that will have space for up to 20 clients on a 24/7 basis, a comprehensive 10- to 14-day program called Social Detoxification Services will have 25 single rooms.

"Once they're in the brief detox, it gives the staff and especially the client an opportunity to evaluate their situation to the extent that they would move to the social detox, which is a longer period of detoxification," said Monson. He added that one individual went through detox 44 times before he became sober.

The centre's services will include an addictions assessment, physician visits and optional AA meetings. Hedlund said the direct pathway from one level of treatment to the next in the same building will help ensure an addict's success.

Work will begin this fall to renovate the building at 1640 Victoria Ave., where Future Print is currently located. The treatment centre is slated to open at the end of 2009 and will employ 23 full-time addictions workers. The purchase of the building and renovation cost is pegged at $5.8 million and funded by the provincial and federal governments and the RQHR.

The Ministry of Health has provided $5.1 million in capital funding and $1.25 million towards the centre's $1.8-million operating costs, said Joceline Schriemer, legislative secretary for addictions.

"It's a step in the right direction," Schriemer said. "We're maintaining a relationship with Recovery Homes and that's very important ... Enhancing the drug and alcohol services in this province is a top priority for our government."

The health region distributed information sheets to area residents in June and visited 30 nearby agencies to explain the project. Since planning is in the early stages, the region will hold public consultation meetings in September to provide residents with an opportunity to get more information about the centre.

Leila Francis, executive director of the Core Community Association, doesn't dispute the need for addiction services but wonders why the region didn't arrange public consultations before the building was purchased. She questions whether the centre will generate extra traffic, create parking issues and raise security issues.

"The community here doesn't have a lot of resources within its boundaries yet we house the major feeding programs in the city, so is it going to generate any additional clientele?" Francis asked. "We want to ensure that there is minimal fallout to the community with this centre because all the (addictions) services will be concentrated there."

Glen Perchie, executive director of the region's EMS and emergency services, said the brief detox beds will reduce the pressure on emergency departments.

"A lot of times, people with addictions problems and those coming in intoxicated have a chronic underlying problem and we're not so good at that," he said. "This is an opportunity to bypass the emergency department in many cases and take them directly to a place that's actually focused on their care and get them the appropriate help. It's the fast track to the right place."
source: © The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008,

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