Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Andre Serzisko


Finally someone has the courage to talk publicly about the massive 
failure that the Vancouver Island Health Authority has perpetrated on 
addiction services throughout Vancouver Island. Unfortunately it had 
to happen with the resignation of Dr. Anthony Barale.

I'm surprised it has taken this long for the health authority to 
begin seeing its narrow-viewed approach to addiction services 
failing. The authority's move to amalgamate addiction services with 
mental health services marked the beginning of the end. Watered-down 
addiction services, addiction specialists being replaced by 
mental-health workers with little addiction training and the slow but 
inevitable elimination of community prevention services are only a 
few examples of the chaos that has been created.

More and more experienced people are leaving the health authority, as 
I did four years ago, because it cares little about the people it is 
supposed to be serving or its staff.

After 10 fulfilling years in addiction services I chose to leave 
because the agency that I was working at, which had a 30-year history 
in offering the community addiction services, was closed by the 
health authority in favor of merging all out-patient addiction 
services into one giant organization centred in the downtown core.

Addiction services, after being merged with mental health, has lost 
its identity and focus. Look to our neighbouring provinces and you 
will see addiction services delivered by a provincial agency with 
concrete goals and necessary policy development divisions.

The solution is simple. Take addiction services out of the health 
authority structure, redistribute money back to existing community 
services and let them make the decisions that they know are right for 
their community. VIHA is too busy dealing with its bottom line, 
budget deficits and shuffling management staff to notice the distress 
it's causing in the community.

Andre Serzisko,

Former VIHA employee,

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