The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has announced it will undergo an external review of the hospital’s procedures for issuing passes and granting privileges to forensic patients.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Catherine Zahn, president and chief executive officer of CAMH, said she requested the review to be completed with “robust recommendations” by the end of the year.
“It will allow us to enact change as expediently as possible in order to rebuild trust in our program and in our organization as quickly as possible,” she said.
CAMH has faced mounting pressure for a review after a number of patients went missing from the facility, including as recently as this week. Three went missing this month, including one who boarded an international flight while on a day pass from the hospital and has still not been found. Last week, the municipal and provincial governments called on CAMH to review the cases and take steps to improve.
On Monday, Toronto police confirmed a 27-year-old man who went missing that morning was a patient at CAMH. The patient was found later the same day.
On July 3, Zhebin Cong was reported missing to police. He had been found not criminally responsible (NCR) for killing someone who shared his boarding house.
Police only announced Mr. Cong was missing on July 14. They have not stated where the flight Mr. Cong boarded was headed, although Mr. Cong frequently expressed a desire to travel to China, where he was born.
“We don’t have information on how he was able to leave the country,” Dr. Zahn told reporters Wednesday.
On July 14, 68-year-old Geoffrey Le Feuvre went missing from CAMH and was found two days later. He was found NCR for multiple assaults in 2007.
In June, Kleiton Da Silva, another NCR patient, left the hospital overnight and robbed two businesses before being found. Mr. Da Silva’s case is the second time an NCR patient left the hospital and was charged with a crime, according to Sandy Simpson, chief of forensic psychiatry at CAMH.
People with an NCR designation are detained in the forensic units of psychiatric facilities and their cases are managed by external review panels, such as the Ontario Review Board, which can determine whether they are eligible for privileges, such as supervised or unsupervised community visits.
Police Chief Mark Saunders said Thursday that Toronto police would perform a full investigation into Mr. Cong’s disappearance, as well as an internal department review.
The hospital is still working on naming a chair for their external review, Dr. Zahn said. “We will be keeping both levels of government apprised of our review findings.”
Dr. Zahn added some changes have already come into effect, such as increasing the level of oversight for issuing passes.
Patients who are admitted to hospital as NCR participate in a “gradual reintegration” process into the community, according to CAMH’s website. The facility provides patients with supervised day passes and eventually permits them to go out on their own, based on parameters set by the Ontario Review Board.
“Our job is two-fold,” Dr. Zahn said. “One, to protect community and safety, but also to help individuals recover from their mental illness.”