“primum non nocere”
That’s Latin, from what we think is from the Hippocratic Oath physicians take, and it means “first, do no harm.” In fact, this is not a part of the Oath; it is from another of Hippocrates’s works, Of The Epidemics.
Nonetheless, we expect nothing other from our health care providers than that they abide by this idea. Do no harm.
Yet, harm is inflicted here almost daily on the sunny, happy, hippy, affluent Sunshine Coast when mentally ill patients at Sechelt Hospital are released from care without any sort of discharge plan.
The psych unit here – as are most all across the province – is badly overburdened, under-staffed, and overloaded. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) funds mental health services on the Coast, but it has chosen to shrink funding to this area while demand increases.
Back to the discharge plan. This is what medical professionals, in concert with social service providers, should create: a plan for what happens next.
What happens to a poor soul who has been drawn out of the weeds, talked out of the trees, drugged into oblivion (the chemical nurse), with no available lines of support, and bounced from care because beds were needed? Where is this vulnerable person to stay, to find safety, to heal, to thrive?
On the Sunshine Coast, the answer is this: There is no discharge plan. There are no resources to plan for a vulnerable patient’s release. There is nothing.
And where do newly released mental health patients go? Mostly, out onto the streets. Into the greedy hands of predators, pimps, and drug dealers who patrol the shelters, laneways, and homeless camps in the forest for new victims.
It’s all about the money.
We here on the Sunshine Coast need funding for out-patient services to pay for discharge plans and for qualified people to implement them. Until this happens, the ongoing human tragedy – and the lost potential of ill but willing and gifted members of our community – will continue.