Okanagan-Similkameen youth treatment centre halts operations

Concerns about patient care and funding have caused a teen addiction rehabilitation centre near Keremeos to suddenly close its doors.

The Crossing rehabilitation centre near Keremeos has closed.

The Crossing rehabilitation centre near Keremeos has closed.

Concerns about patient care and funding have caused a teen addiction rehabilitation centre near Keremeos to suddenly close its doors.

Operators of the The Crossing, run by Portage British Columbia, abruptly halted operations on March 5, laying off 30 staff members including full time, part time and seasonal workers.

No new clients have been accepted into the residential addictions facility since October because of ongoing issues relating to level of care according to  Dr. Connie Coniglio, provincial executive-director of Children and Women’s Mental Health and Substance Use Programs. The program is an agency under the Provincial Health Services Authority.

“A ministry and health authority review of the facility found issues with the model of care provided, including inadequate staff training and access to community services post-discharge,” an emailed statement from the PHSA said.

“A subsequent inspection by Interior Health Licensing found issues of non-compliance with the residential and community care legislation, including failing to have a full-time manager on site and reports of misconduct between a staff member and client.”

Interior Health could not be reached for comment before press time. Coniglio said there was also concerns regarding how Portage spent the $2.5 million it received from the province annually to operate the facility.

“We had some concerns with some of the spending and asked for an external audit on how they were using funds,” she said.

It’s unclear if an external audit will be completed since Portage is no longer operating the facility.

The 42-bed facility opened its doors in 2009 and about 400 youth have successfully completed programming. The PHSA became involved in overseeing the operation of The Crossing in April 2014, taking over from Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regional health authorities. The shift was a request from the Ministry of Health brought on by ongoing issues and a desire to make the facility’s reach province wide.

“Basically, the Provincial Health Authority have been working with the Portage group for many, many months trying to get an agreement moving forward. We were working on recommendations and making changes and working with Portage on those changes,” she said.

Representatives from Portage did not return recent calls and emails but did speak with Black Press days after the closure. Seychelle Harding, communications director for Portage said in a previous interview the reason for the facility’s sudden closure was a result of not being able to come to an agreement with the province specifically relating to the budget.

“We met the employees there to tell them the news. Most of them were not surprised and the reason behind the decision is that. Portage has been trying for about two years to get to an agreement with the provincial health authorities and we just couldn’t get to an agreement,” she said in an interview on March 9.

With the closing of the The Crossing there are only two residential addictions recovery programs left operating in the province.