Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rumblings of Demise

Times were tough for Riverview in the late 1960's. In 1968, the hospital's outdated facilities and salaries were two major factors that lead to a shortage of psychiatrists.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.

“As quickly as possible, the patients must be moved to alternative community-based facilities and as each unit is vacated it should be demolished.”

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.

Thanks to the PDF, Riverview, A Legacy of Care and Compassion for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill


  1. I have a degree in psychology and I wish there was an answer to helping the mentally challenged but the mind is very complicated and because no two people are alike no one answer works.

    Your posts regarding the mentally ill have been very informative and educational. I have been a participant in the world of psychology and wonder sometimes how they could come up with some of these horrible methods of therapy that is essentially torture and claim victory. Yet today electro therapy is still used and some ice baths.

    Then on the flip side I wonder how many lobotomies would help our prison inmates to become more manageable in there demented states. It is a quandary for sure. I myself have been medicated a good part of my adult life for depression, anxiety and PTSD. I can only pray that the field of psychiatry can come up with better methods of helping the insane and mentally disturbed. Change is necessary there is no doubt but the question is HOW?

    Thanks Karen you're doing a great job on a very difficult plight in the history of mankind. Because there are so many factors sociology, biology, cultural life etc it will be a topic that will always be interesting.

    1. Thank you Lee. I am just reporting facts I am finding in the PDF. I agree, the question on treating mental illness is HOW?