Friday, March 18, 2011

Doctor threatened for speaking out against leaving mentally ill children in basement

And Premier Stelmach's claim that intimidation against doctors for speaking out on patient care has 'not been substantiated' suffers another blow.
The smoking gun proves to be a nasty letter threatening to demote a doctor. It might finally force the Tories to call the public health care inquiry they're so determined to duck.
As recently as Thursday afternoon, Premier Ed Stelmach said this specific case was not substantiated.
Now it is; and another of the premier's fallback positions collapses behind him.

Calgary psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Maybaum spoke up vigorously in 2008 after he learned that the planned mental health unit at the new South Campus would be postponed.

He wrote an e-mail to other doctors that found its way into the Herald. This became a big story at the time. What we didn't know then, though, was that Maybaum subsequently received a letter from a senior health official.

It said, among many other things: "I am forced to make a clear statement that further communications of this nature without discussion and review with members of the Executive of Mental Health and Addictions will require . . . (asking) the Executive to formally review your role as physician leader for psychiatry to the South Campus project."

There's the threat. And it came because Maybaum wrote an impassioned e-mail about treatment for the mentally ill.

An earlier plan for mental health in the new Alberta Children's Hospital, Maybaum wrote, "was scuttled late in the design process, leaving no spot for mental health services except for the basement.

"Yes, in the basement. The new Children's Hospital, replete with fantastic vistas of the mountains, bright sunshine, striking colours -and children with mental health problems left in the dark -a forgotten afterthought -wedged into leftovers in the bowels of the site."

Maybaum said he wanted to be named to the South Campus project "to ensure mental health is not once again marginalized."

But then it happened all over. Maybaum learned the South Campus mental health pavilion would be cut from the first phase of the new hospital.

"Suddenly, all of the planning, all of the excellent designs, are on hold and very likely scuttled. Mental health (is) served another blow, marginalized -yet again."

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