More medical incarcerations

News that some patients at the East Coast Forensic Hospital haven’t been discharged because of a lack of community resources seems a throw back to Dickensian era where people were locked up and the key thrown away for being perceived of having a mental weakness, or being poor.

The idea that 19 people are kept locked in a hospital for one-, two- five- and six-years beyond treatment needs shows the cavalier attitude of the Nova Scotia Health Authority towards patients and the public purse. How much does it cost to keep these patients in hospital and is that not wildly more expensive than providing support in their home communities? And does this forced stay not harm their recovery and deprive them of freedom of movement and association?

Beyond the hospital costs – in terms of hard dollars and wasted resources – this could be an expensive an embarrassment to the province. Since this is a secure facility, where patient movement is restricted, could these individuals have a case for violation of their Charter Rights? What if they sued? How much would that cost? Win or lose, the money would come from public.

Two years ago we had the case of a young Nova Scotian man incarcerated because his guardians used ancient statues, which included descriptions of “lunatics” and “insane or dangerous idiot”, to argue he was incapable of making decisions for himself. Is this recent round of medical incarcerations more of the same?

Is this false economy or another example in the litany of failures of the NSHA executive?


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