Closing Crossroads Treatment Centre will be an "unmitigated disaster," says a Kelowna addiction expert.
On Wednesday, Crossroads announced it will stop providing addiction and detox services beginning in 90 days, because it couldn't get additional funding from the Interior Health Authority. The facility is facing $1.3 million in debt and another $300,000 is owed in grants. Forty-six of the publicly funded beds at Crossroads are full for most of the year.
"It's the only inpatient addiction centre in the Kelowna area that is publicly funded and it's the only recognized medical detox facility in Kelowna, so closing Crossroads will be an unmitigated disaster," said the doctor who asked to remain anonymous.
"I think these patients will end up not getting treatment and cause other issues or end up in KGH in the ER where they will not be able to be treated properly. There are patients that require inpatient rehabilitation undoubtedly."
The Hospital Employees Union said closing the centre will leave an unacceptable gap in detox and addiction treatment services in the Okanagan.
"Leaving Okanagan residents without access to these vital health services is simply not an option," said HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson in a press release.
"If the funding issues cannot be resolved with the society, the IHA should be prepared to consider other options to maintain these services up to and including taking over the centre's operations."
Sixty-nine full-time, part-time and casual staff will lose their jobs.
Tracie Mundie, servicing representative for the Hospital Employees Union in Kelowna, said the closure of Crossroads is a sad day for its employees. HEU represents about 50 employees at Crossroads.
"Crossroads have been here for a long time; it's providing a necessary function in the Okanagan. We don't know what's going to happen with the services."
Mundie said staff will plan some sort of campaign in the upcoming weeks.
"The staff do want to do some kind of campaign because they are really worried with what is going to happen with the clients that are in care."
The B.C. Medical Association estimates one in 10 in the province - about 400,000 people - have some kind of addiction. Shannon Hopkins, Interior Health's administrator for community integrated health services in Kelowna, said IHA is committed to working with Crossroads.
"We want to ensure there is no gap in substance use services in Kelowna. We are still in the early stages, but we are committed to the clients in the community," she said.
Hopkins said Crossroads and IHA renewed their funding contract last year for a three-year term, and that Crossroads approached them last year citing financial problems.
"They did approach the IHA for an 85 per cent increase in funding, but the IHA was only able to provide a 30 per cent increase."
Hopkins said Crossroads and Interior Health will begin discussing short- and long-term solutions for substance-use services in Kelowna.