Island Health says it will take a series of actions to address concerns of former patients at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Island Health says it will take a series of actions to address concerns of former patients at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Island Health promises action after criticism of Victoria hospital’s psychiatric unit

‘When we see things happen we’ll start to believe them,’ former patient says

Island Health says it’s taking steps to improve psychiatric services at a Victoria hospital.

Earlier this month, former patients of the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) unit made public critiques of the care they received, saying they were belittled, patronized and dismissed by staff when they were admitted for mental health care.

In an email, Island Health said PES strives to provide the best care possible.

“People have a right and an expectation to be treated with respect and dignity when they are accessing our services,” the health authority stated. “We are aware of the concerns many people have expressed regarding their experiences and care at PES, and we take these concerns seriously.”

Island Health said it is taking immediate and long-term actions to address the concerns, including having both clinical and non-clinical senior leadership on site at PES over the coming weeks “to better understand the experience and challenges of both patients and staff.”

RELATED: Former patients of Victoria Psychiatric Emergency Services call for change

Island Health also said it will strengthen the process for patients to have their voices heard and better inform patients of the process to formally enter a care concern.

Earlier this month Emma Epp, 19, and Ella Hale, 18, led the charge on allegations of poor care – taking their concerns directly to Premier John Horgan and meeting with Keva Glynn, Island Health’s director of Mental Health and Substance Use services.

Hale says the commitments from Island Health are nice to hear, but the group wants action.

“When we see things happen we’ll start to believe them,” she said. “Apologies and words are easy. Action is what’s harder.”

A silver lining, Hale added, is the community created by people opening up in the Facebook group – created by Hale and Epp – called PES: A Pathetic Excuse for Support.

“I think there’s healing in sharing your story. I think change needs to happen but if nothing comes out of it, we have this,” Hale said. “I don’t think people were listening before. Now they’re listening.”

READ ALSO: ‘Jarring experience’ in B.C. psych wards because of ‘uniquely problematic’ law


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