ADHD experts want B.C. inquiry into bungled $3-million donation

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      A Vancouver-based coach in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is calling for an investigation into why, according to him, the Provincial Health Services Authority blew a chance to pocket a $3-million donation. The money—promised by Harley-Davidson Canada CEO Don James and partly redirected to Lions Gate Hospital Foundation after three years of alleged dithering by PHSA—was originally earmarked for B.C. Children’s Hospital’s ADHD program.

      “I feel things that you couldn’t print in the newspaper,” Pete Quily, who also has ADD, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “I felt very, very, very angry, because, again, I am one of the people that hear these horror stories. Whether they tell me on the phone, on email, at my Vancouver ADD support group, I hear a lot of stories.”

      Most of the time, according to Quily, people will relate tales of how they couldn’t get diagnosed for ADHD in Vancouver, sometimes because he said doctors don’t know how to diagnose the condition or because they don’t believe it exists.

      “Then this guy has got $3 million that he has been trying to give to these people, and when I heard that, I was extraordinarily angry, because, again, these were people that really needed diagnosis and treatment,” Quily added. “To find out that they could have been getting that help…you know, right now there are not that many people in the Vancouver area who know how to diagnose and treat ADHD.”

      Dr. Margaret Weiss, who said she recently resigned from B.C. Children’s Hospital partly due to the bungled donation, told the Straight that she agrees with Quily. Weiss was director of the ADHD clinic at the hospital, the adult component of which was shut down by the B.C. Liberals in 2007. She is a world-renowned expert in the area of ADHD.

      “I definitely think that there should be an inquiry, because this is not the only instance in which a major donation has not been accepted by the health authority,” Weiss claimed in a phone interview. “And so, given the extreme budgetary constraints on provision of medical services, the fact that they are turning down much-needed money in areas of care that are particular gaps in our system needs to be investigated.”

      Speaking to the Straight, David Weir, spokesperson for the PHSA, expressed regret on behalf of the authority for the mishandling of the donation.

      “Unfortunately, there are rare occasions where we are unable to meet their [donors’] wishes, such as the case recently with Mr. James and his family, when they offered to donate to an adult ADHD program at B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Services,” Weir said by phone. “While there were initial discussions with B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Services staff regarding the potential program, we were unable to accept the donation because there was no long-term funding source to maintain the service beyond the initial donation. We regret that we did not communicate our decision to Mr. James in a timely manner.”

      PHSA is reviewing the finer details of the situation to ensure that the agency improves communication and dealing with stakeholders, Weir added.

      Michelle Stewart, spokesperson with the B.C. Health Ministry, told the Straight Minister Mike de Jong was “out of the country” and would not be able to respond.

      Weiss reiterated her belief “that this should go to the highest level of the health authority and to the minister of health and to the premier to find out why and how this is happening”.

      Another issue, according to Weiss, is what Lions Gate Hospital Foundation does with the first $1 million of James’s donation. According to Kristy Gill, director of donor relations at Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, the donation will go toward the new Hope Centre, a four-floor in- and outpatient building “with an educational component”. Gill said she cannot confirm how much more money the James family will donate after that, until it is clear how the programming will look.

      “The terms of reference of the inquiry, from my point of view, has to supersede any particular health authority,” Weiss added. “Because I don’t think one health authority is culpable; I think there is a lack of clarity. If a donor is offering money on the basis that he wants to support a particular service, what is the process by which that is handled and what is the commitment, and in what time frame does that occur?”

      Weiss said Lorna Howes, director of mental health with Vancouver Coastal Health, is directly responsible for bringing new services online at Lions Gate, which would include a proposed lifespan ADHD clinic. Weiss and Quily both claim they have heard nothing about when the new facility is to come on-stream. Howes did not responded to messages by the Straight’s deadline.




      Jan 25, 2012 at 5:09pm

      Here's a story about classic bungling that the BC Liberals would like to go away as quickly as possible.