Stop the New Oak Ridge

Apparently, the Ontario Budget announced funding for the new Oak Ridge - a 160 maximum secure bed. This runs counter to all the thinking that we don't need this building we need more medium secure beds. It runs counter to the Reid report which was the foundation of our NCR
system.

Oak Ridge is the wrong facility in the wrong place. 20 years ago, the Hucker Report recommended that it be closed. It takes people out of communities and away from their making reintegration more difficult.It means that our maximum secure beds will never be near an academiccommunity. Helping professionals do and will find it difficult totravel leaving the work to a small, and sometimes insular community. This is the wrong use of scarce mental health resources.

Here is the article that ran in the Midland Mirror:

The provincial government has committed to rebuilding Oak Ridge in Penetanguishene, but it could still be several years before the new building is erected.

"It's always good to have your project mentioned specifically in the budget," notes Dan Parle, director of planning and public information. "We have not had a lot of details since then about what this actuallymeans and we'll be waiting for the government to tell us." Parle says staff at MHCP has been working on plans for the new building for about 15 years, although work on it has increasedsubstantially in the last several years. The next phase in the process will be detailed drawings before site preparation and eventual construction.

The replacement of Oak Ridge was specifically mentioned in the Ontario Budget released by the Liberal government last week, as part of the ReNew Ontario plan that will see the province invest more than $5 billion in health care infrastructure by 2010.

The announcement comes as welcome news to Penetanguishene Mayor AnitaDubeau who says having the hospital in the town is good for the economic health of the area.

"The building is absolutely antiquated and it was really important for the government to stipulate that it will be rebuilt here," said Dubeau." There was a concern that they might find space elsewhere but I'm really happy. Economically, the hospital, over all, I believe, has a
$70-million-plus budget and over 1,000 employees when you look at Oak Ridge and the entire mental health centre group. So, that's a big influx of dollars into the community."

MHCP features 31 acute psychiatric beds, 101 beds in the longer-term Tertiary Care Division and 160 maximum and medium-security beds at its Forensic Division at Oak Ridge.
Although several locations on the property have been looked at, the site that has garnered the most support for the new Oak Ridge building is directly behind administration towards the bay, which would require moving a couple of buildings.

Patients will be transferred to the new Oak Ridge building once it is secure and functional, but that is not likely to happen for several years.

The rebuild of Oak Ridge is part of a total makeover of MHCP that has been in the planning stages for years, says Parle. "The long-term plan was to have everything (five major buildings)
concentrated in the Toanche Building and to have a new front building attached to the whole complex," he says. "Having a more concentrated, condensed hospital with everything close would be a good change forus. That would get us ready for the next century."

In an era of SARS and concerns about pandemics and other securityissues, the goal is also to have a single point of entry into the mental health centre complex, once it's built. When no longer needed, the old Oak Ridge building will up for bidding by other provincial government departments.

If no one at that level of government wants it, the Town of Penetanguishene can purchase it, although it doesn't seem likely they would want it, notes Parle.