A businessperson with ties to Peterborough and his own struggles with addiction is proposing to finance and build a detox and treatment centre in Peterborough to alleviate wait times in hospitals.
Alex Bishop, managing partner of the Concierge Group, grew up in Peterborough and is a recovering addict. He says he understands the issues that have plagued the city during the opioid crisis.
“My personal connection to this is that I have been in recovery for a decade, next year,” Bishop said.
“I have deep connections, I have had a lot of people in my life that have actually passed away from this disease, from addiction and suffer from other mental health issues.”
Between 40 to 60 per cent of all emergency room visits are mental health or addictions related and about 95 per cent of these visits don’t meet the threshold for emergencies, he said.
“What that means is almost half of the visits to the ER, could be completely gone, we have gigantic wait times in ER’s, we know this,” Bishop said.
If you drive by any emergency room in the province you will see first responders sitting and waiting to drop off their patients while on offload delay, he said.
He said he wants to improve the system by providing a facility bringing together existing services throughout Peterborough to provide for the needs of people who need it during acute stages in their mental health or addictions issues.
“There are long-term solutions to take people from where they are at an acute stage to get them community support,” Bishop said.
“At the centre would be an urgent care centre at the heart of it and both short-term stay beds, they could be used for detoxes, they could be used for mental health holds and then community support agencies that are already in Peterborough would be plugged into the same centre.”
Emergency rooms are not the place for people who are in a mental health crisis or dealing with addictions because it doesn’t help anybody, he said.
The centre should be located on a site within a three kilometres of the hospital and would host many of the existing services such as PARN and FOURCast that help people with addictions.
“There should be rental spaces for offices for various other community services for homelessness, for food security, for ongoing mental health and addictions treatment that are already in the community,” Bishop said. “They need to be on-site, so there can be a referral and then short term stay beds.”
He said this type of thing is something that is socially good for the community and that politicians across the province should want something like this in their communities to help reduce wait times and costs of an overburdened system.
“This proposal is not only the right thing to do, it is a socially good move, it is fiscally responsible,” Bishop said.
“This is something that every single politician in the province should be interested in and asking how they can bring this to their neighbourhood, and this would actually reduce operational costs.”
He said he is hopeful the city would endorse his proposal for the treatment centre because it would be beneficial for the community.
“If the city of Peterborough is serious about this, we are willing to put our money where our mouth is and design, build, and finance the centre for Peterborough that would be run by the public system,” Bishop said
Coun. Dean Pappas said he hasn’t read the proposal yet, but he introduced a motion at the Sept. 8 city council meeting that would see partnerships form around recovery beds.
He said he wanted to start a conversation about the need for recovery beds to move toward a treatment centre like the one Bishop is proposing.
“That is why I wanted to start with recovery beds at the hospital because they (people) are there,” Pappas said. “People who have OD’ed are there that’s a good time to kind of say now we are here to help you. You don’t have to go far.”
The motion aims to advocate for the beds and start a dialogue, he said, and if council ratifies it later this month it would allow the city to start real meaningful discussions on the issue.
“That motion is really designed to start the ball rolling again and get the discussion off the ground,” Pappas said. “Because it is also about treatment, we need treatment.”