News release

Province, Capital Health Report Progress

NOTE: Biographies for Dr. Alexander Simpson and Dr. Johann Brink are available at http://gov.ns.ca/just/review_ECFH.asp.

Provincial officials are reporting progress on a joint review of the circumstances in the release of a patient at East Coast Forensic Hospital.

The province and Capital Health have hired independent forensic mental health experts and established terms of reference for the review that began April 18. On April 16, a patient failed to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital while on a temporary, unescorted pass, and was charged with murder while away from the hospital.

"The province and its partners are working to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again," said Health and Wellness deputy minister Kevin McNamara. "We are making progress and have retained expertise to ensure an independent perspective. I look forward to presenting the recommendations to ministers after the review is complete."

The review will focus on three key aspects:

  • community access privileges granted for patients who have been found not criminally responsible by the courts
  • public notification in the event of a patient's failure to return on time
  • patient supervision

The review will determine whether policies and procedures were followed and whether they are adequate. It will also compare policies and procedures to national and international best practices.

The province and Capital Health have each hired forensic mental health experts to assist with various aspects of the review. The province has retained psychiatrist and University of Toronto professor Dr. Alexander Simpson to assess the quality and suitability of current policies and processes. He is clinical director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the largest mental health and addiction hospital in Canada.

Capital Health has hired Dr. Johann Brink, a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, to determine if it followed all policies and procedures currently in place. Mr. Brink is also the vice-president of medical affairs and research for the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission in British Columbia.

The review is expected to be completed this summer.

To review the terms of reference for the review, visit http://gov.ns.ca/just/review_ECFH.asp.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Provincial officials are reporting progress on a joint review of the circumstances in the release of a patient at East Coast Forensic Hospital.

The province and Capital Health have hired independent forensic mental health experts and established terms of reference for the review that began April 18th. On April 16th, a patient failed to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital while on a temporary, unescorted pass, and was charged with murder while away from the hospital.

The province has hired psychiatrist and University of Toronto professor Dr. Alexander Simpson. He is clinical director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the largest mental health and addiction hospital in Canada.

Capital Health has hired Dr. Johann Brink, vice-president of medical affairs and research for the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission in British Columbia.

The review will determine whether policies and procedures were followed and whether they are adequate. It will also compare policies and procedures to national and international best practices.

The review is expected to be completed this summer. The terms of reference can be found on the Department of Justice's website.

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Media Contacts:

Sherri Aikenhead
Health and Wellness 902-424-7942 Cell: 902-456-6386 E-mail:
Dan Harrison
Department of Justice 902-424-0942 E-mail:
John Gillis
Capital District Health Authority Pager: 902-458-5376 E-mail: