Addressing Community Concerns about Patient Elopement
Addressing Community Concerns about Patient Elopement
Posted on 08/27/2014
Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, a provincial specialty mental health and addiction hospital located in Penetanguishene Ontario, is extending its thanks again to the staff and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for a quick and successful resolution shortly after a patient elopement on August 23, 2014 that resulted in no risk to the public.

The incident is currently under investigation by the province’s special investigation unit and hospital officials are not commenting on the specifics of the event. The hospital also wishes to express it was not involved with sharing patient information with the media and continues to advocate for reducing stigma for everyone dealing with a mental health challenge including patients in forensic mental health hospitals.

President and CEO Carol Lambie does want to reassure the community that both the hospital’s patient elopement procedures and the security system of the new building aided in the quick resolution. The hospital has taken extra precaution to ensure this cannot happen again while a full investigation is completed. Any additional measures needed to further secure the campus are a priority. In response to the feelings expressed about the community being notified, in this instance the quick response and efforts to keep track of the patient’s whereabouts meant he was found within two hours close to the hospital and before venturing into neighbouring areas.

“I want to reiterate that we are doing a full investigation into this event, taking precautions for staff, patient and community safety, and will do any remediation necessary to ensure the chances of it happening again are minimal,” noted Lambie. “This may include changes to the property, hospital building and additional training and supports where necessary for our staff. We do understand the safety concerns raised by the public and as part of a debriefing with the OPP it was agreed we would jointly ensure a plan is in place for public communication if at any time community safety became an issue.”

“We are also more than willing to have further discussion and communication with staff or any stakeholder group at any time. We do ask for staff to tell us their concerns and are providing either weekly or bi-weekly written communication for staff about continuing work in the new building as well as verbal communication through regular team meetings, but are always open to other suggestions.”

Waypoint officials continue to commend the staff’s response to the patient elopement which supported the quick resolution and for their on-going commitment to the often challenging work in a mental health hospital.