Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Dr. Kiri Simms


This week Dr. Anthony Barale departed from his position as head of 
Victoria's only psychiatric emergency unit, the Archie Courtnall 
Centre. His departure reflects not only his frustration, but his 
continued compassion for those addicted patients for whom he has 
little to offer due to the deplorable lack of resources in this city.

I have worked as an emergency room psychiatrist for the past eight 
years in Montreal and as director of a busy crisis service. For the 
past two months I have been working alongside Dr. Barale at the 
Courtnall Centre.

The percentage of patients I have assessed who have addiction as 
their primary problem far surpasses anything I have seen in Montreal. 
Adults as young as 17 and 18 are admitted barefoot, bruised and 
psychotic due to alcohol, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. The 
city's meagre number of detox beds are usually full and there are no 
long-term residential beds on Vancouver Island. Usually all we can do 
is stabilize these young people and send them back to the horror that 
brought them to us in the first place.

Addiction research is clear: Long-term (three months and more) 
residential rehabilitation programs with properly trained personnel 
are essential to the breaking of the cycle of addiction.

While a costly study of whether a safe injection site is feasible for 
Victoria may relieve the conscience of a city plagued by tourist 
disgust at the needles found downtown, it will not in any measure suffice.

This is a capital city in a very wealthy nation and there is no 
excuse for this appalling neglect of our marginalized youth.

Dr. Barale has been a strong spokesman for addicted persons for many 
years and he feels that his message has fallen on deaf ears. His 
departure is a serious loss and it needs to be taken as a call for 
commitment and funding, not only by VIHA administration but by all 
levels of government.

Dr. Kiri Simms,


Archie Courtnall Centre.
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