Fredericton detox centre reopens after 10-week closure

The Fredericton detox centre has reopened 10 weeks after a lack of staff forced it to close. 

Horizon Health Network was able to recruit three nurses for the centre, and four patients had already been admitted Tuesday, said Jean Daigle, who is responsible for the network's addiction and mental health services.

Three more patients are scheduled for admission Wednesday.

Daigle said newfound awareness about the detox centre played a role in recruiting those nurses.

"I must admit that some of the media coverage we also had over the last number of weeks has been helpful," he said.

"We've had nursing staff who have stepped up and said, you know, 'I can help out in any way I can.'"

Shelter happy detox returns

Warren Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said he's happy to see the detox centre up and running again.

"It's a critical service for the western New Brunswick region and you know it's one of those ones where you definitely need it," said Maddox.

"Just super happy that they're back up and they've got their staffing squared away."

When the 10-bed centre was closed, patients were transferred to other units in Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi.

Daigle said there was a significant demand for the service during the closure.

Shane Fowler/CBC

"We did field, I guess, a number of calls over that period —  approximately 74. You know, 'Is this a long-term closure?' 'Should I be considering other options?' 'Could you get a hold of me once it reopens?' Those kinds of things."

Maddox said there were people at the shelter who wanted to go to detox but decided against it because they would have to travel out of the city.

Now that the centre is running again, Maddox said he would like to see a revaluation of how detox is done in the province.

At the moment, he said, detox is largely centred around opiate addiction, although methamphetamine use is on the rise and the current detox regime isn't fit to address the challenges.

"Opiates have a really clean harm-reduction model either through methadone [or] suboxone," Maddox said. "Crystal meth isn't like that.

"Sending somebody through detox four or five days or seven days after they've been addicted to crystal meth for three, four or five years just isn't enough time to sort of rebuild an individual and deal with the problems that drove them to do that addiction to begin with."

More nurses needed

While the hiring of three nurses has secured the reopening of the centre, Daigle said Horizon still has a lot more nursing positions to fill in the next few years.

He said there are no current closures in Horizon detox centres but he couldn't say whether a lack of nurses had led to closures in other areas of the network.

Daigle said while the Fredericton unit is good for the foreseeable future, the situation remains precarious.

"I still think, you know, you get an issue where somebody is out for long-term sick [leave] and you could be faced with something very similar," said Daigle. 

"We know that casual staff are in high demand and in many areas in the hospital too. So we're competing for valuable resources here."