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North Bay police often forced to spend hours in hospitals for mental-health patient handovers

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North Bay police Chief Daryl Longworth is hoping to meet with the city hospital’s CEO to discuss ways of streamlining the handover of mental-health patients.

At the police services board meeting Tuesday morning, Longworth said police spent more than 260 hours in two months at the North Bay Regional Health Centre waiting to transfer mental-health patients apprehended by police.

“We have a wonderful mental-health response through the police service here where we're partnered with mental health workers and nursing staff that work with and partner with our officers,” Longworth said.

Statistics showed that officers spent 117 hours at the hospital in January and 151 hours in February. That creates staffing problems on the ground, he said.

“The number of officers we have on the street is significantly diminished when we have to have officers tied up at the hospital,” he said.

“It's part of the Mental Health Act, which requires (police) to be there until they're accepted by the hospital.”

He’s hoping to meet with hospital CEO Paul Heinrich to discuss the matter.

“So it's just a conversation to see how we can speed up the process at both ends to get our officers back on the street,” Longworth said.

“My intention is to meet the CEO because I'm new here. There's a number of people in the organization and the community I'd like to meet and the CEO of the hospital is certainly one.”

Longworth added he would like to see a more streamlined process to make better use of both hospital of police resources.

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