Interior Health has been hit with a $628,000 penalty by WorkSafeBC, spurring the closure of a recently reopened mental health and substance abuse drop-in centre in Princeton.
According to a WorkSafeBC penalty summary posted online, a worker and client were assaulted by a member of the public who was denied entry at a Princeton mental health centre operated by IH.
“WorkSafeBC’s investigation determined that the employer had not conducted a violence prevention risk assessment and had not developed specific violence prevention procedures that took into account the risks associated with the particular worksite,” the summary reads.
Interior Health confirmed the incident occurred in 2016 while the Kenley Avenue location hosted the Anchorage Clubhouse program. The clubhouse program was closed immediately after the incident in 2016, but IH recently contracted the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society to operate the Kn ala Inclusion House Mental Health Centre at the same location. The facility began accepting patients on July 2 and featured a drop-in centre for those living with mental illness and substance-use disorders.
However, those plans are now scuttled.
“Safety is a key priority for us at Interior Health,” said Danielle Cameron, mental health and substance use health services administrator for IH Central. “IH has reviewed the findings of the WorkSafeBC investigation into the 2016 incident and determined that the Kenley Avenue is not suitable from a safety perspective. For that reason, we have asked the service provider to cease operations at their current building and find a new location within 90 days.”
“We regret the impact this facility closure has on clients of the Kn ala Inclusion House,” added Cameron.
Interior Health says they’ve learned from the penalty. Vice president of human resources Mal Griffin said since the incident in 2016, IH has completed violence risk assessments of all Interior Health locations, and update them annually.
“We agree with WorkSafe BC that violence risk assessments are important and required, because they identify the physical supports needed to keep help people safe,” she said. “Since this incident, Interior Health has devoted time and resources to embedding a culture of safety that reaches from frontline staff to our CEO and Board.”
The LSCSS will continue to run regular activities for clients Monday to Thursday within the community, including coffee clubs, outings and wellness clinics. Other facility-based programming will resume once a new permanent location is secured.
IH says it will be working with the Town of Princeton to review options for a new, safe location as quickly as possible.
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