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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

TEGH and Safety

Over the past year, there have been two episodes of concern regarding mental health patients at Toronto East General Hospital. The shooting death of Michael Eligon on February 3 of this year, left the neighbourhood scared about flying bullets and patient safety. Last month, the city was on alert looking for another TEGH patient that had walked out of the mental health unit and disappeared (unofficially, the TEGH calls this an 'elopement').

A community meeting was organized last month and according to a Pioneer source, the hospital and 54 Division have both committed to working with the community to address ongoing safety concerns. One of the biggest challenges facing the hospital is that TEGH is undergoing a multi-year re-development project which, on top of more traffic nightmares, could quite possibly open up even more opportunities for safety issues to arise.

Here are two important items that Pioneer wanted to share:

a) If you are in a situation that you feel requires hospital security, for instance an eloping patient, you can call TEGH Securiy directly at (416) 469-6016. They have trained security staff that will respond 24/7.

b) Councillor Janet Davis has started a petition to bring a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team to TEGH and the area. These teams include a nurse trained in mental health support and a partner police officer. Their role is non-violent intervention and support during a mental health crisis. The petition was signed by community members at the community meeting and is being supported by community organizations such as DECA. Davis will be presenting this to LHIN to ask for funding in September. If you support this initiative, please don't hesitate to email the councillor's office with your endorsement. You can find all her contact information here.

Creating a safe community involves everyone's participation. While this re-energized relationship between councillors, the hospital, the community and the police is a great thing, it should not have been lacking in the first place. Will this renewed vigilance create an immediate effect on the neighbourhood? Probably, but maintaining it over the years will be the tough job.

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