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B.C. residential mental health facility to close due to lack of funding

A dozen residents of a White Rock mental health facility slated to close next summer are on the verge of losing not only their homes, but also their support system and their community, the owner of the facility said. ‘establishment.

Buena Vista Lodge, which has been providing in-home mental health treatment to White Rock residents for more than 50 years through 12 beds funded by the Fraser Health Authority, will close next June due to a lack of funding, according to its current owners.

On October 5, Buena Vista Lodge received a letter from the FHA, advising it of the decision, which came after the current owners decided to sell the property.

The budget for the mental health space was steadily shrinking, making it difficult for the owners — one of whom has been at Buena Vista Lodge for over 20 years — to keep going.

“We cannot afford to do this. For a year, we have been putting money out of my pocket to support this group,” explained the owner, who, when approached by Black Press Media, agreed to speak, but asked not to be identified.

The situation wasn’t viable, so they decided to lease the building and found a party they believe to be the best candidates for the job – people who have experience in the field and are “interested in working with the new budget”.

However, when they informed Fraser Health of the proposed change of operator and gave a year’s notice, they received an email stating that there would be no more money to be received once the contract current expired.

“You have been thoughtful providers and have provided excellent customer service on site,” the letter reads.

“However, the process we undertook to replace the beds diverted our resources to other projects. Please inform all potential tenants of the space that, at this time, we are unable to negotiate a contract for MHSU (Mental Health and Substance Abuse) services with them.

Staff members informed Buena Vista Lodge residents of the health authority’s decision.

“Some of them have been here for 27, 28 years. The (newest) one we have here has been here for probably 17 years. Like, everybody’s been here forever. This is their home, this is their community,” the owner said.

The residents, whom the facility’s owners refer to as “family”, did not react well to the announcement that they will have to move in a few months, they said.

“You want to collect them and put them in another community? I guarantee you there will be some kind of loss (of life) at some point,” he said.

“Should people end up on the streets because of this?… They’re here for a reason and it’s not helping them… we’re seeing an increase in paranoia and anxiety (and) behavioral issues . ”

The biggest concern is where the residents of Buena Vista Lodge will go.

In 2018, Good Shepherd Lodge, a similar facility in White Rock but with 30 beds – also funded by Fraser Health – was closed. Fraser Health noted that in this situation as well, it was the owners who “initiated its closure.”

With Good Shepherd Lodge closed, relocation options in South Surrey and White Rock are slim, the owner of Buena Vista said.

They reached out to Surrey-White Rock Liberal MP Trevor Halford to enlist his support in their fight to keep their doors open. Halford addressed the issue in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, November 1.

“Why is this minister cutting beds in the middle of a mental health crisis?” Halford challenged Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson.

“These are 12 beds leaving the community, without any explanation.”

“Welcome to the member to let me know all the details about the facility he’s describing,” Malcomson replied.

Halford, in turn, called it a “problem” the minister didn’t already know about Buena Vista Lodge.

“In every health authority, we have opened more addiction treatment and recovery beds, more mental health beds than there have ever been in the history of the province,” Malcolmson responded.

In a statement to STOVE On Wednesday, Nov. 2, a Fraser Health representative reiterated that the Buena Vista Lodge closure was not the decision of the health authority.

“I can tell you that the owner of Buena Vista Lodge – a private facility – has informed Fraser Health that he intends to close the site. The owners have indicated that they have decided to terminate their service agreements,” the representative said.

“Fraser Health met with the owner to discuss their concerns and potential mitigation strategies to prevent closure. However, the owner was firm in his decision. We have had ongoing conversations with the owner to ensure he is taken care of until the end of the notice period.

In response to concerns about where residents will go and how far away they will have to be from their families, Fraser Health said a plan is in place.

“Over the next year, Fraser Health will work with all residents and their families at the facility to ensure that appropriate transition plans to new homes are in place and that residents continue to receive the supports and services they need. We are committed to reinvesting this funding into new bed-based mental health programs in our region and we are working closely with our partners to identify optimal locations,” the representative continued.

“While Fraser Health does not intend to close mental health and addictions programs in our area, in cases where a contracted provider chooses to close a residence, we will work with the provider to ensure that Appropriate transition plans are in place for all residents and that they have continued access to the supports they need.

A petition has been started to stop the closure of Buena Vista Lodge. To date, it has collected nearly 300 signatures.

“Just show me there’s a new facility being built in White Rock if there’s a problem with us…Most of their families live in the neighborhood. There’s not a single person here who doesn’t have their family visit each week,” the owner of Buena Vista said.

By having their families close by, residents of Buena Vista Lodge have seen their mental health improve over time. This situation threatens to unravel that progress, they said.

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Fraser HealthHealthMental HealthWhite Rock