Province speaks on addictions facility closure

The province tells their side of what prompted an operator of a teen addictions facility to close its doors March 5.


Concerns about patient care and funding are among reasons for the sudden closure of a teen addiction rehabilitation centre near Keremeos.

Operators of the facility called The Crossing run by Portage British Columbia abruptly halted operations on March 5 laying off 30 staff members including full time, part time and seasonal workers. Since October no new clients had been accepted into the residential addictions facility because of ongoing issues relating to level of care, Dr. Connie Coniglio, provincial executive-director of Children and Women’s Mental Health and Substance Use Programs said.

The program is an agency under the Provincial Health Services Authority.

A ministry and health authority review of the facility found issues with the model of care provided, including inadequate staff training and access to community services post-discharge,” an emailed statement from Provincial Health Services Authority stated.

A subsequent inspection by Interior Health Licensing found issues of non-compliance with the residential and community care legislation, including failing to have a full-time manager on site and reports of misconduct between a staff member and client.”

Concerns have surfaced regarding how Portage spent the $2.5 million it received from the province annually to operate the facility.

We had some concerns with some of the spending and asked for an external audit on how they were using funds,” she said.

It’s unclear if an external audit will be completed since Portage is no longer operating the facility.

Coniglio said PHSA is currently in talks to determine what the future of teen addictions rehabilitation will include in the future.

It’s too early to say what will happen at the site,” she said.

Roger Parsonage, regional director of health protection for Interior Health wouldn’t comment specifically about the alleged misconduct between a staff member and client.

I’m not going to comment any further recognizing that this facility served a highly vulnerable group of clients,” he said.

Interior Health was tasked with completing reviews and inspections at the facility periodically as it falls in the regional health authority’s geographical jurisdiction.

Parsonage, who has worked for Interior Health since the late 1990s, said he wasn’t aware of any concerns at The Crossing prior to spring/fall 2014.

There was inadequate and absent policies and procedures, gaps in staff records, and staff qualifications and conditions in the facility that potentially posed a risk to the youth that were in care so that prompted us to advise them they were in non-compliance,” he said.

Both PHSA, Interior Health and Portage spokespersons have said they’ve been working for a longtime to find a solution.

The issues surrounding licensing were addressed and in January the facility could have started taking new patients.

Seychelle Harding, communication director for Portage said talks have been ongoing with province for about two years.

The facility had been running on a month by month contract with the province for more than a year, she said.

(We were going) back and forth with PHSA almost for two years now. There were some good discussions. They loved the Portage model of care. We worked on an enhanced model of care together,” she said. “In the end we didn’t have an agreement and we didn’t have the budget we agree on. After two years what else are we to do?”

Harding said accusations made that there was an act of misconduct between a patient and staff member were “hurtful”.

Throughout the process I haven’t put anybody down. There were budget issues and we couldn’t come to an agreement and that’s basically what it boils down to. The other side decided to make their own allegations,” she said. “That’s one of the accusations that hurt us the most.”

Harding said the organization was also hurt by spending concerns voiced by PHSA spokespersons.

We were always very transparent with them they have all the financials,” she said.

The Crossing, a 42-bed facility opened its doors in 2009 and about 400 youth have successfully completed programming. The PHSA became involved in overseeing the operation of The Crossing in April 2014 taking over from Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regional health authorities.

On average the facility has received about $2.5 million annually to operate from different levels of provincial government.

At the time of its opening licensing required under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act was issued to Coastal Health as one of the funders of the facility.

In the spring Portage was made to apply for the licensing which triggered a more in depth review of operations at the facility.

The shift was a request from the Ministry of Health brought on by ongoing issues and a desire to make the facility’s reach province wide.

With the closing of the The Crossing there are only two residential addictions recovery programs left operating in the province.

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