The closure of mental health beds at Alberta Hospital Edmonton (AHE) is being hammered right, left and centre. The just-announced decision by the province to close 100 to 150 acute-care beds at the facility is being criticized by a federal Tory MP and by the provincial NDP and Liberals. All of them worry the decision by Alberta Health Services could force patients onto the streets of Edmonton's inner city. "It's unconscionable," said Edmonton East MP Peter Goldring. "That's why the homeless population has exploded in the inner-city areas," said Goldring, who worries discharged mental patients could harm themselves or others. "Once they're off their meds they don't make rational decisions," Goldring said. "At least 25% of the homeless people in the community have serious mental problems." Provincial NDP Leader Brian Mason fears the bed closures -- to happen over three years -- will compound an existing problem. "We have a very serious shortage of mental health beds already," said Mason, who also fears psych patients might wind up on the street. Liberal health critic Kevin Taft said his phones have been "ringing off the hook" from people in the health-care field who believe the bed closure move is foolish. "On paper, some of these people could be supported in the community, but in reality the resources are simply not there," said Taft. "Everyone is right to be very, very skeptical about this," Taft said. Alberta Health Services spokesman Marianne Stewart deflected the criticism, saying "research and best practices" show many psychiatric patients are better off living in the community than being at an institution. "We want to make sure we've got the right people in the right setting," said Stewart. "We need to do better for the people in the AHE and they should be in our community." Stewart insists nobody will be thrown out on the streets, saying people will only be moved when there's a place for them elsewhere. The placements could range from "everything from a lodge-type setting that's their home and is supervised ... to group homes."
Originally posted by sanchoearlyjones
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