RCMP investigating death at Campbellton psychiatric hospital

Vitalité Health Network says a patient at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton died unexpectedly Saturday. Police say he was a 38-year-old man.

Police say the patient was a 38-year-old man at the Restigouche Hospital Centre

The Restigouche Hospital Centre is New Brunswick's psychiatric hospital. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

New Brunswick RCMP are investigating after a patient at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton, N.B., died unexpectedly Saturday.

"The facility's staff noted the death this morning and the procedures were immediately put in place to inform the patient's family, police authorities and the coroner," the Vitalité Health Network said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon.

RCMP said the patient was a 38-year-old man. They're waiting for an autopsy to be performed.

Vitalité said it is conducting its own investigation "to determine the exact cause and circumstances of the death." 

The network added the identity of the patient can't be disclosed due to privacy laws and the protection of patient personal information. 

Report on hospital 

The patient's death comes two days after Charles Murray, the province's ombud, said the psychiatric hospital was in crisis and providing inadequate care to the patients. 

A report by provincial ombud Charles Murray says there has been 'significant mistreatment' of patients at Restigouche Hospital Centre. Murray delivered the report to a legislative committee. (Nicolas Steinbach/Radio-Canada)

His report, released Feb. 7 when he appeared before a legislative committee, said that there has been "significant mistreatment" of patients at the Restigouche Hospital Centre, which serves psychiatric patients from around the province.

Vitalité officials said what was being presented in the report was outdated and CEO Gilles Lanteigne said the patients were safe.

The network added it was "on the right track" with a process that started in 2016 to change the culture at the centre.

But Health Minister Ted Flemming responded to the report by announcing he was bringing in an independent mental health expert who will come up with recommendations within 90 days.

Murray also recommended the opening of a youth mental health centre, which is 90 per cent completed, be cancelled until there were assurances that there was enough qualified staff in that area. 

Premier Blaine Higgs confirmed Friday that a review of the youth centre is underway. He said if the province can safely operate both the current psychiatric hospital and the youth facility, with proper staffing, the new facility will open.

Meanwhile, Lanteigne said ​the health network is moving forward with the plan to have the youth building finished and ready for operation by the end of 2019 until told otherwise.

On Sunday, Flemming said in a statement the Health Department would be closely monitoring the matter. 

"We share public concern and acknowledge that there is increased focus on the hospital given the systemic issues found by the ombud," the statement read. 

Flemming offered his sympathy to the family of the patient.

"Our thoughts are also with the hospital staff and patients impacted by this unfortunate situation." 

With files from Jacques Poitras