Province, Vitalité Health accept recommendations regarding Restigouche Health Centre

The province and Vitalité Health Network have accepted an external advisor's recommendations to improve safety and services at the Restigouche Hospital Centre (RHC) in Campbellton.

In a press release, the government says the recommendations are part of the minister's formal response to Failure to Protect, a report by the Office of the Ombud on allegations of inadequate care at the facility.

The Ombud's report said more clinical psychiatric expertise was needed at the facility; it recommended shrinking its mandate, including potentially shutting down several units, as well as regular evaluation by outside experts.

The Department of Health hired George Weber, an expert in health administration, to guide the implementation of operational changes needed to address the Ombud's recommendations.

Weber has made four recommendations to improve safety and services at the RHC:
- Keep the RHC open, with the Department of Health continuing to support Vitalité Health Network's established strategic action plan, including working with the Network to develop competitive recruitment and retention strategies for specific and essential health-care professionals.
- Accelerate engagement with other government departments to assist RHC in discharging all patients who no longer require tertiary-care services into program placement that better meet their level of care needs
- Develop a provincial treatment system framework/continuum of mental health and addiction care, which should include outcome measures to identify gaps, and then based on the completed framework, a provincial health bed capacity plan should be developed and implemented, with beds repurposed accordingly.
- Assign an appropriate lead to monitor and ensure quality control of forensic assessments in New Brunswick.

Health Minister Ted Flemming says, "The Department of Health will diligently monitor the situation and adhere to the vision of goals that support our vulnerable citizens having access to treatment and services that best meet their needs."

A document containing the recommendations was tabled today in the legislature.

The province says Weber also made six recommendations for the Vitalité Health Network.

In a separate press release, the Vitalité Health Network says it has noted the ten recommendations contained in the report and has accepted the six recommendations that apply directly to the RHC.

The Network says it is confident that it has the plan and tools needed to modernize and improve services at the RHC.

Jacques Duclos, Vice-President of Community Services and Mental Health for Vitalité Health Network, says, "we are pleased that Mr. Weber has identified the same issues and challenges we have."

According to the press release, the Network intends to continue working with the government and other stakeholders to implement Weber's recommendations, designed to improve quality of care, patient safety and human resource availability, as quickly as possible.