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Inmate's mother concerned with conditions at North Bay Jail during COVID-19 outbreak

'They are really suffering in there'
2022 01 14 North Bay Jail
North Bay Jail.

A concerned mother of an inmate in the North Bay Jail is concerned with the treatment of her son who has a drug addiction and suffers from mental health issues. 

The news comes in conjunction with a COVID-19 outbreak of more than 60 cases within the jail which is stretching resources within the facility.  

"They are really suffering in there," said the mother who wished to remain anonymous.  

The mother told BayToday that her son has been in jail for the past four months and has been receiving methadone until just recently.  

"The nurse withheld his methadone saying it was a disciplinary action," the mother stated. 

"I told him I don't think they can do that; he says it is not the first time.

"You are not supposed to just remove people off of it, there are drugs that assist when you take someone off methadone because there will be withdrawal as it is an opioid."

However, the mother does sympathize with the situation.  

"I know the jail is probably swamped between the unvaccinated and sick staff members," she said.  

"They are probably very shorthanded but the ministry should be looking in on what they can do immediately."  

BayToday reached out to the Solicitor General for a reaction to the concerns from this North Bay inmate's mother. 

"Many inmates are dealing with complex health issues, such as substance use and addictions, as well as mental health issues," said  Andrew Morrison, media relations, Ministry of the Solicitor General.

"It is not appropriate for the ministry to publicly address an individual case especially where personal health information is involved."

The mother believes her son, who is unvaccinated and has already contracted COVID-19, should be at the hospital and not the jail due the state of his mental health.

"I have had to call the sargent and the superintendent's assistant regarding the removal of the methadone and putting him in isolation and not allowing him to use the phone," she said.  

"My son has mental health issues like PTSD, OCD, bipolar, so he has a lot of mental health issues. They told me they are equipped to handle people with mental health issues, I told them he is not being looked after, he gets locked up every time he has a bipolar episode. Maybe he would be better off at the hospital."  

Morrison says naloxone is available in all correctional facilities for frontline staff to administer as a medication to temporarily counter the effects of opioids which may prevent death.

"Inmates who are identified at the time of admission as having issues with substance use, including opioid addiction, are assessed and provided needed health care supports," said Morrison in an email to BayToday.  

"Health care professionals work with inmates to provide access to opioid substitution therapies, such as suboxone and methadone to mitigate risks associated with opioid use disorder. Additionally, health care professionals assess inmates at admission for opioid use disorder and withdrawal and have protocols in place to manage withdrawal. Information about risks, in particular loss of tolerance, and strategies to mitigate overdose risk are reviewed during each and every follow up withdrawal assessment."