Times were tough for Riverview in the late 1960's. In 1968, the hospital's outdated facilities and salaries were two major factors that lead to a shortage of psychiatrists. This was a problem, which led to 40 beds being closed in January of 1968.
The hospital continued to face challenges in the 1970's. Riverview had severe shortages of qualified nurses and psychiatrists. Patients were being discharged into less than optimal conditions in the community and more severely mentally ill patients were referred to Riverview. Granted, there were fewer patients but the ones who were there needed more intensive treatment.
Riverview began an aggressive campaign and raised salaries. Thus, they were able to acquire more qualified nurses and psychiatrists.
In 1972, the BC Government created the Riverview Hospital Advisory Board. The Board then appointed a planning committee to devise a plan phase out the hospital in the next three to five years.
Mental health services were already being decentralized. Riverview expanded its out-patient programs, introduced a Home Treatment Project and broadened rehabilitation programs to prepare patients for transfer to community boarding homes. However, the demise of the hospital was not imminent. This was the first many times the future of Riverview was threatened.
In 1973, Dr Richard G. Faulkes published a comprehensive report about the province's health care system, Healthy Security of British Columbians. He also called to for the closure of Riverview.
Faulkes stated the mental health service as “the most inefficient, ineffective, out-dated and discriminatory of all our existing social and medical programmes”. Faulkes felt that long-term hospitalization harmed patients more than it helped and his report called on the Ministry of Health to dismantle the asylum and create more community based programmes.
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