When COVID-19 hit, the Pictou Detox (Addiction Services Detox Inpatient Withdrawal Management) closed its doors to incoming patients. Staff were told June 15 as a reopening date.
However, the Pictou Detox remains closed today, with no reopen date issued. Progressive Conservative MLA for Pictou West, Karla MacFarlane, is concerned for her community and all northern Nova Scotians.
“The understanding was The Pictou Detox would reopen mid-June and there are no answers from the government as to when, or if, the detox centre will ever reopen,” says MacFarlane. “Why the lack of transparency on reopening a vital service in Pictou County? And, how does the McNeil government justify taking away a vital service such as mental health and addictions services?”
The only access to mental health and addictions services in the northern region of the province is in Springhill. All Saints Springhill Hospital did not add any beds for the additional population it is tasked with serving due to the closure of the Pictou Detox.
In 2015 the McNeil government closed the Aberdeen Hospital mental health unit. With no date set for the reopening of The Pictou Detox, we are on the brink of seeing another mental health service shut down in rural Nova Scotia, and exacerbating the crisis of the lack of healthcare access in rural communities.
MacFarlane points out that COVID-19 has highlighted the risk of increase in addictions and the need for mental health services.
“Removing addiction services from rural communities is heartless, it causes emotional and financial stress on families when they have to travel a long way to receive care,” says MacFarlane. “This is another example of a casualty in rural healthcare under the McNeil government.”
The increase in opioid addictions throughout the province is reason to have access to detox support. Drug and alcohol detox programs are part of healthcare, Pictou Detox should remain to serve the community.