Addictions centre a welcome addition
There was big news last week on the health care front, especially if you or a family member suffers from a severe, complex addiction and would like to receive expert, comprehensive treatment without having to leave the province.
The long-awaited adult residential addictions treatment centre proposed for Harbour Grace took a major step toward reality when Eastern Health announced it has awarded a $1.7 million contract to Homewood Health Centre Inc. of Guelph, Ontario, for the planning and development of the centre.
Once in operation, those addicted to alcohol and other drugs will be able to avail of a longer-term residential treatment program, right here in our own province. Currently, those in need of such treatment can likely find themselves on a plane to the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, which is a fully-accredited national leader and centre of excellence for addictions and mental health treatment.
Advocates say the new centre will greatly reduce wait times for treatment, which is yet another reason to applaud this decision, since time is often the enemy of those with an addiction.
Having to travel such a great distance, away from family and friends, has often stood in the way of those in need of help, and the consequences of this shortcoming has in some cases been deadly.
During a public consultation on the issue in Harbour Grace late last summer, support for the centre was overhwelming.
In one case, a family suggested that the late William J. Sheppard Jr. would still be alive today if there was such a centre in this province. Sheppard became dependent on codeine and other highly addictive drugs prescribed for back pain as a result of an accident.
Unable to get the help he needed, his sister stated, he committed suicide on Aug. 26, 2010. He was 52.
Health officials have long recognized the need for such a facility in this province, and there’s finally some concrete movement in that direction. In its most recent budget, the provincial government announced it is spending a total of $15.5 million on the development of the adult addictions treatment centre in Harbour Grace, as well as youth addictions treatment centres in Paradise and Grand Falls-windsor.
And this comes at a time of government belt-tightening, so it’s obvious our leaders are not content to continue forcing those seeking treatment out of the province for help.
The people of Harbour Grace have to be commended for viewing this undertaking with such an open mind. Sure, some have questioned the wisdom of establishing an addictions centre at the SPLASH Centre on Lady Lake Road, amid a residential neighbourhood, but there’s every indication that the right steps will be taken to ensure every reasonable precaution is taken. And like Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs once said, it has to go somewhere.
We should keep in mind that those entering the centre will be doing so voluntarily, under the recommendation of a physician and addictions counsellor. In other words, they are desperate for help and to receive the tools necessary to break their addictions.
Carbonear-harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy served notice that the centre may go elsewhere if public support was in doubt, stating last year it was a “major consideration” in the process of selecting a site.
And as an elected politician, Kennedy has to be pleased about the economic spinoffs of establishing such a centre in his district, since it will create between 20 to 30 news jobs in a town that has seen its economic base shrink over the years.
We should also keep in mind this centre will not open its doors overnight. This is no easy undertaking, and it has to be done right.
As such, Homewood Health Centre will bring the expertise of a full team of health care providers who specialize in addictions treatment to the facility, and will work with Eastern Health over the next two-and-a-half years to develop a functional program.
We wish all those involved in this process the very best of luck. There are a lot of people counting on your best efforts.
— Terry Roberts