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Man claims Chilliwack General Hospital failed to help him

Local resident Kyle Eby claims Chilliwack General Hospital failed to adequately assess him after he told them he was contemplating suicide. - TIMES - file
Local resident Kyle Eby claims Chilliwack General Hospital failed to adequately assess him after he told them he was contemplating suicide.
— image credit: TIMES - file

A Chilliwack man contemplating suicide said he was released from Chilliwack General Hospital without psychiatric assessment on the night of July 29.

Even after he told staff he would harm himself if he was let go, Kyle Eby said he was sent on his way with only an Ativan and instructions to check back in the morning.

After spending time at his sister’s home that night, Eby set out the next morning to walk along the Vedder River—and walked all the way to Abbotsford Regional Hospital, arriving there 12 hours after he left his sister’s house.

“I immediately felt like I was taken care of,” said Eby of the Abbotsford treatment.

He said that was in contrast to Chilliwack General’s service where the psychiatrist “didn’t feel like coming in”.

But Stan Kuperis, director of mental health and substance abuse at Fraser Health said individuals who go to emergency services with crisis claims or mental health issues are never turned away.

“In this case, a psychiatric consultation was completed at both Chilliwack General Hospital and Abbotsford Regional Hospital and the care plan did include input from a psychiatrist,” he said.

Kuperis also mentioned other resources available to those with depression or suicidal ideation: the Chilliwack Mental Health Centre, a Fraser Health 24-hour, seven-day crisis line, and the hospital emergency department which has a psychiatrist on call all hours.

However, Eby said those services aren’t widely known about and that it took this incident to bring them to his attention.

A community group Facebook post he created has generated a lot of traffic, with almost 340 comments by Tuesday. Most of them were sympathetic, and some shared similar experiences.

The response he received from that post has inspired him to create his own online group called the Chilliwack Wellness Support Group

“It’s a place where [one] can reach out into the community, not feel ashamed about how they’re feeling at that moment and get the support they need from other members of the community that understand how they feel,” said Eby.

He said he’s doing better after outreach from the community and that it makes a big difference to know that people care.

In contrast, Eby said it was hurtful to be turned away by the local hospital emergency services.

“Experiencing a mental health crisis can be scary, and reaching out for help can be difficult,” said Kuperis of Fraser Health.

“We are very sorry to hear that this patient was not happy with the care he received and we are looking into this matter to better understand the circumstances.”

• The Chilliwack Mental Health Centre can be reached at 604-702-4860. Services are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Chilliwack Mental Health has an open referral system; anyone can refer, including clients themselves. Fraser Health also has a 24/7 crisis line, which clients can access if they have more urgent needs for services. The Crisis Line can be reached at 1-877-820-7444.

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