The equivalent of a doctor’s note will be required to enter Brandon’s drunk tank beginning this weekend.
The delay in implementing the new policy, which was expected to start in late January, was done to "ensure effectiveness and allow time for processes to be fully adjusted," according to a statement from Manitoba Justice.
Beginning Friday at 11 p.m., people admitted into the Brandon Correctional Centre late at night who appear to be intoxicated will have to be assessed by a nurse, doctor or paramedic upon entering.
The medical assessment is normally conducted by a nurse working at the BCC. If the medical professional is not available, however, an outside assessment will be required beginning Friday. It is expected a nurse won’t be on duty from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.
This procedural change is already in place for custody admissions in Winnipeg.
The change will surely put a strain on the Brandon Police Service, whose officers would be expected to chaperone suspects to the hospital for inspection, and the Brandon Regional Health Centre, whose staff will have more patients to assess.
Neither organization, however, was willing to state their opinion on the development.
BPS Chief Wayne Balcean, in a statement, said discussions are ongoing to "work on viable solutions that are mutually beneficial for all agencies involved."
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson said the city’s hospital would ensure processes are in place once the policy is enforceable.
"At this point in time, it is not possible to comment specifically on overall impact to the emergency department and this will need to be monitored over time," a statement read.
To avoid protracted overnight trips to Brandon’s drunk tank, Virden RCMP is staffing its four operational cells with security guards.
Staff Sgt. Joe Frizzley said last week nine applicants were being evaluated. Once those guards are hired, persons found to be intoxicated can be held at the Virden detachment overnight.
The police force was using the BCC for custody purposes because it was short on guards.
"I just think it’s a little smarter to have the guards in place and that way we’re not waiting and not tying up medical staff," he said.
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