Health Minister Terry Lake has announced the addition of 40 new beds at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C. to assist in the addiction recovery of the mentally ill.
Lake said the new program will provide assistance for the recovery and rehabilitation of addicted mentally ill patients —noting that one in five adults will at some point in their life be diagnosed with a mental illness.
The Coquitlam psychiatric hospital has been sitting mostly empty — except for three small mental health facilities operated by Fraser Health — since it closed in 2012.
Lake said the new program will be run at Riverview by Coast Mental Health as part of the provincial strategy to offer targeted community support programs at the hospital for the mentally ill.
The decision to locate the rehabilitation and recovery program on Riverview's grounds was made after BC Housing hosted a series of community open houses and extensive public consultations on the future of the site.
The open houses are part of the consultation to come up with ideas for the best use for the 100-hectare site. That process is continuing and the future of Riverview Hospital has still not been entirely decided.
In June, the City of Coquitlam endorsed a report that called for the restoration of Riverview in order to provide mental health services, rehabilitation programs for addicts and an acute care hospital.
Riverview Hospital used to house thousands of mentally ill patients, but in the 1980s, the Social Credit government came up with a plan to close it and attempt to integrate mental health patients back into communities.
The strategy known as "Closer to Home" was carried out over the next two decades and met with mixed success and has been widely criticized.
Riverview is listed in the top ten of Canada's most endangered heritage sites by the Heritage Canada Foundation.
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