Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Dr. Martin B. Spray
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Re: "VIHA failing addicted, mentally ill," Aug. 24.

Dr. Anthony Barale's refreshingly frank letter identifies once again 
an old problem that the Vancouver Island Health Authority tries to 
fix with reorganization schemes conceived with little input from the community.

In May 2002, VIHA ceased to fund intensive residential treatment, 
claiming that it was unwarranted both clinically and economically. As 
a consequence the Victoria Life Enrichment Society, an organization 
that provided the only publicly funded intensive residential 
treatment on Vancouver Island was no longer funded.

At the time many citizens, including health-care professionals, wrote 
letters of support in attempts to save what was seen as an 
outstanding program, a claim made even by administrators within VIHA.

The society had been underfunded for years. In the 10 years prior to 
2002 there had been no new increases in funding beyond a few 
cost-of-living increases. These increases were neutralized by the 
fact that the size of the government grant had actually been reduced 
over this same period of time. The funding available made it 
extremely difficult to provide adequate accommodation for the more 
severely afflicted individuals that were being seen.

VIHA proceeded to absorb addiction programs operated by two other 
non-profit charitable organizations, the Dallas Society and the Drug 
and Alcohol Rehabilitation Society.

In the process the addictions field lost the fundraising capacity of 
each of these societies, the contributions of grassroots volunteer 
boards, the benefits of programming based more on front-line 
experience than political expediency and outlets for service for the 
many people in our communities who have a passionate commitment to 
seeing the addiction epidemic curtailed.

Dr. Barale's call to the public to raise funds for much needed 
addiction resources recognizes that VIHA does not have the resources, 
a well-defined system of care or the passion to speak to a problem 
that is ultimately ours.

As such we need not only financial resources from the community but 
leadership as well.

Dr. Martin B. Spray,


Dr. Spray was executive director of the Victoria Life Enrichment 
Society from 1989 to 2003. The society provided publicly funded 
intensive residential treatment from 1975 to 2002.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman