A town that does care

More than 300 get to­gether in New Water­ford to dis­cuss men­tal health and drug ad­dic­tions cri­sis

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE CAPE BRE­TON POST

Tears, dev­as­tat­ing sto­ries and stand­ing ova­tions were all part of an emo­tional town meet­ing in New Water­ford Tues­day night.

More than 300 peo­ple packed the New Water­ford fire hall, prov­ing that res­i­dents not only care about the is­sues of lack of re­sources for men­tal health and drug ad­dic­tions but are de­ter­mined to see some­thing done about it.

“The town needs help,” said Doug MacLeod of River Ryan, ac­com­pa­nied by wife Pat­tie-Anne MacLeod, when asked why he was there.

Wendy Des­rosiers of New Water­ford said she was there be­cause there is a prob­lem and some­thing has to be done about it.

“There’s too many young peo­ple dy­ing.”

Deb­bie Camp­bell of

New Water­ford, who lived in Al­berta for

17 years, and moved back four years ago, said the prob­lem is out West as well as home.

“The prob­lem is not just New Water­ford, it’s ev­ery­where,” she said.

The town hall meet­ing was or­ga­nized by the A Town That Cares group, spear­headed by Buddy Pen­ney and John Bis­son, af­ter the death of Evan Web­ber, 29 on May 6. Web­ber was Pen­ney’s nephew and the best friend of Bis­son’s son.

“Our ob­jec­tive tonight is to get the com­mu­nity in­volved, to set up some kind of plat­form to­wards see­ing a men­tal health/ ad­dic­tion cente in the CBRM,” Pen­ney said.

At least 100 peo­ple had filed in as much as half an hour early.

“It shows they are in it with us for the long haul,” Bis­son said.

Dist. 10

Coun. Ken­dra Coombes was the MC for the even­ing and asked that, with an elec­tion go­ing on, the meet­ing not to be used to pro­mote a politi­cal agenda. “There is no place for politi­cal agenda when our chil­dren are dy­ing.”

Dale Jol­lota, of Dart­mouth, who has fam­ily in Glace Bay and Do­min­ion, had the au­di­ence in tears while speak­ing of the Olivia Jol­lota Me­mo­rial Trust she cre­ated in mem­ory of her daugh­ter Olivia, an hon­our stu­dent who died at age 15 af­ter a hy­dro­mor­phone over­dose, to raise aware­ness of the dan­gers of pre­scrip­tion drugs and how those sell­ing or giv­ing away their pre­scrip­tion pain pills need to be held ac­count­able.

“There is noth­ing in this world that can pre­pare you for find­ing your child in their bed dead.”

Tom Blan­chard, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Tal­bot House, an ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery cen­tre in French­vale, said there is a cri­sis and it’s not just opi­ates, but all drugs.

“In the last month and a half I’ve been at six fu­ner­als,” he said.

“The last one was a week ago when a mother buried her 10year old daugh­ter to can­cer and she buried her last daugh­ter at 29 be­cause of drug ad­dic­tion.”

Blan­chard urged the com­mu­nity to come to­gether.

“I don’t think we can ever rid the com­mu­nity of drugs but as a com­mu­nity we can make it tough.”

Rob Mul­loy of the Get Pre­scrip­tion Drugs Off The Street group said the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to peo­ple us­ing opi­ates was the pre­scrip­tion and over­pre­scrip­tion of opi­ates, say­ing that crim­i­nals are tar­get­ing th­ese peo­ple and drug deal­ers are buy­ing pre­scrip­tions.

Dr. Venkata Pup­pala of Syd­ney, who joined the A Town That Cares group that is con­cerned over the depth of the prob­lem, said a men­tal health/ drug ad­dic­tion cen­tre is needed.

“We have the plans, we have the blue­prints, we have the peo­ple mo­ti­vated, we just need ap­proval from elected of­fi­cials to make this hap­pen,” he said.

“Once fund­ing is ap­proved, we could have a fa­cil­ity up and run­ning in three months.”

Pup­pala, who re­ceived his masters in pub­lic health de­gree in Ken­tucky and did his res­i­dency in Buf­falo un­der Richard Blon­dell, a well-known ex­pert in the field of men­tal health, said each of the four ERs in the CBRM is spend­ing $5,000 per day deal­ing solely with drug over­doses and men­tal health is­sues.

“If you take the four ERs, that’s close to $20,000 per day and over a year it’s close to $8 mil­lion.”

“With the $8 mil­lion what we spend on ER vis­its alone in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal, we could have a fa­cil­ity with 25-50 beds.”

He said the men­tal/health/ drug ad­dic­tion fa­cil­ity now in the base­ment of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal is not a good place for an ad­dict to make life-chang­ing choices.

“There is no fol­lowup on him. Once he’s done detox he’s out the door.”

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Ash­ley McKen­zie of Syd­ney, for­merly of New Water­ford, lis­tens dur­ing the town hall meet­ing or­ga­nized by the A Town That Cares group at the New Water­ford fire hall Tues­day night. More than 300 peo­ple packed into the fire hall, de­ter­mined to see a so­lu­tion to the lack of re­sources for men­tal health and drug ad­dic­tions in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Jol­lota

Dr. Pup­pala

Blan­chard

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Pat­tie-Anne MacLeod and her hus­band. Doug MacLeod, of River Ryan, lis­ten dur­ing a town hall meet­ing or­ga­nized by the A Town That Cares group at the New Water­ford fire hall Tues­day, to deal with the se­ri­ous is­sue of lack of re­sources for men­tal health and drug ad­dic­tions in the com­mu­nity but also across the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Doug said they were at­tend­ing the meet­ing be­cause “the town needs help.”

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