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Treatment centre marks 25th anniversary

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Joan Taillon, Raven's Eye Writer, Round Lake







Page 1

Round Lake Treatment Centre (RLTC) has just celebrated 25 years working in the field of drug and alcohol addiction.

Despite prudent management and a documented 18-month success rate approaching 65 per cent, the centre now faces significant financial challenges in continuing its programs.

The week-long celebration began with the planting of a Red Maple tree by Minister of State for Women's and Seniors' Services and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Ida Chong, and concluded Sept. 28 with a powwow and feast on the park-like treatment centre grounds.

Drum group Sookani from Creston provided traditional music.

About 30 staff and board members greeted guests. Dignitaries who attended included Chief Stewart Phillip of the Penticton Indian Band, Chief Lyle Brewer of the Okanagan Indian Band, George Girouard from the Interior Health Authority (IHA), and councillors from the cities of Vernon, Armstrong and the township of Spallumcheen. A large number of visitors toured the grounds throughout the day.

RLTC President Patricia Wilson stated "One thing we have learned in the passing weeks is that the profile of our organization is low.We see the need to raise our profile; over the past 25 years almost 8,000 people have been treated for drug and alcohol addiction at our centre, and over those years we have achieved a success rate of approximately 65 per cent."

Many other centres do not publish statistics, but if pressed will say the success rate is believed to be low in treating addictions.

Wilson indicated they have received a lot of verbal support from politicians such as Chong, Minister of State for Mental Health Brenda Locke and Minister of Education Tom Christiansen, which she hoped would buoy their appeal to the health authority for ongoing funding.

The centre presented a "recognition plaque" to George Girouard for the assistance IHA has provided to date. According to Patricia Wilson, Girouard said he "felt confident" the province would continue to fund the centre.

While the federal government has committed to support RLTC the next five years, the IHA so far has only extended financial support one more year. The provincial contract expires March 31, 2005.

"RLTC has been operating under extensions," said Wilson. "We are desiring multi-year funding from the province that would complement our federal funding. We have negotiated a five-year agreement with First Nations and Inuit Health and we are looking forward to securing our funding with the Interior Health Authority ... Our overall operating budget is approximately $1.8 million, with the province of British Columbia accounting for almost 40 per cent of the funding."

She said they were seeking a meeting with provincial officials but the province "wants to combine a program review with funding discussions." She said with extensive government staff cuts and changes, covering both those objectives at the same time was proving difficult to arrange.

Wilson pointed out that RLTC "is fully accredited by CARF." CARF (Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities) is an international, not-for-profit organization that has been accrediting human service providers since 1966. The organization establishes quality standards and guides providers in imlementing the standards. The RLTC has been accredited by CARF since 1993.

In addition to operating money, the centre needs capital funding. Most of the facility's buildings were erected in 1984 and the cedar shake roofs now need to be replaced. Because of the heightened fire concerns resulting from drought the past couple of years, the centre sought the opinion of forest service officials who advised them the cedar roofs present a "real danger" in their rural location. Last year the centre had to evacuate because of an encroaching fire hazard. Wilson said the estimate to replace the roofs on five buildings is about $160,000.