Oh good grief.
Jean Laroche of the CBC reports that a facility for those with mental health issues, Simpson Landing, sits half-empty. Simpson Landing has an abundance of beds, yet we keep hearing of a “quiet crisis” in the delivery of mental health care.
We hear that people suffering mental health emergencies have gone to ERs and been turned away. More than once there have been stories of a refusal to admit a person into care or someone being released against family wishes – the implication is that there is no room for them. And while some people struggle for help, we have 20 beds sitting empty!
Now that this has been made public, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) have resorted to the classic response: “The health authority said it was looking at other uses for the vacant part of Simpson Landing, but refused to discuss any or talk about a timeline.”
Of course, further use of a medical facility and a timeline for use are state secrets.
Former NDP cabinet minister Graham Steele has told us that politicians and organizations love to say something is being “studied”. Study sounds like something is being done, when the real purpose of any study is to give cover for inaction. A government may engage in studies to wait out the next election. With senior bureaucrats, like those at NSHA, one assumes study helps them wait out their impending retirement (3-4 years based on age).
Simpson Landing is another in the long list of health care project cock-ups. It was five years late opening and 48 percent over budget.
When it opened then health minister Dave Wilson said the delays and costs were due to a change in location (it was moved closer to the street) and the cost of demolishing another building on the site. Why weren’t demolition costs factored in to the original budget? And in the original planning process why wasn’t location better considered? Any homeowner knows that mid-project changes turn into a money pit, so who authorized the location change? And why wasn’t better planning in evidence?
This project would have been approved in the same time frame as the new Truro hospital, which was two years late opening and 80 percent over budget. Nova Scotia has over 200 years of government projects not coming in on time and on budget, yet, those responsible constantly feign surprise. And with health care we not only can’t project costs and delivery time, we can’t project need.
So what else can’t health executives manage?