New B.C. rehab centre opened in memory of son

New B.C. rehab centre opened in memory of son

Drugs killed her son, and now a Penticton mother hopes to change the system so it doesn’t take anyone else’s

“It keeps calling my name.”

Those were among Brandon Jansen’s last words to his mother Michelle at a Powell River rehab centre on March 6, 2016, just hours prior to his death from a fentanyl overdose.

Brandon’s life ended two days before his 21st birthday.

“He said to me at breakfast that morning, ‘I’m struggling. I can’t hold it,’” recalled Michelle about their visit on just his third day at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, the 12th facility he had attended to try and rid himself of the addiction. “Since my son passed, the number of fatalities has escalated and I have parents and loved ones reaching out to me every week, sometimes a couple times a week, saying they’ve lost yet another one.

Brandon Jansen during a happier moment in his life prior to his death from fentanyl.
Submitted photo

“Most recently I had parent reach out to me saying they had lost their son in a treatment centre but you never hear about that.”

As Michelle puts it, “unfortunately or fortunately,” she has become an expert on what does and, sadly, what doesn’t work when it comes to addiction treatment — at least specifically in relation to fentanyl which also claimed the life of her younger son Nick’s 16-year-old girlfriend just months afterwards.

So that is why the Lower Mainland woman has decided to open her own treatment facility in Penticton called the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre.

It’s what she hopes will be the first of many in Canada and the United States.

Read more:Health officials battling damaging fentanyl myths

She chose Penticton for its “serene and tranquil” setting and small-town atmosphere in which patients will have the “peacefulness” to work on their recovery.

“I have learned what it takes to keep these people alive,” said Michelle. “I applaud the new government for allotting over $300 million and creating a new ministry to deal with mental health and addiction. That is a big step but still that sense of urgency is not there, people are still dying everyday.

“Come on, the numbers tell the story. These people just die and they are leaving all their families and friends and extended families in this wake of tragedy and grief. It’s crazy, it’s crazy. I can’t sit back any more so we’ll have beds and we’re going to do it properly, we’ll do it different.

“This is my commitment to Brandon. I don’t have the option of not doing anything, something has to happen and if it takes me starting to open up treatment centres I’ll do it.”

She added there were 21 recommendations from the coroners inquest into Brandon’s death however she said none have been implemented, something which she plans to talk to Judy Darcy, Mental Health and Addictions minister about when they meet soon. In November, a report released by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority stated the centre was in compliance with provincial regulations which is another of Michelle’s concerns.

An aerial view of the new Brandon Jansen Memorial Treatment Centre on Juniper Drive in Penticton.
Submitted photo

“Right now what most people don’t understand is that recovery centres are regulated under the health authority, it’s the same regulations that daycare centres and seniors homes are. There is nothing that is regulated in terms of the addiction treatment regime, it doesn’t exist,” said Michelle. “Had there been the proper regulations in place like the one I will have in Penticton, 1,000 per cent Brandon would still be alive.”

The first recommendation from the inquest to the health minister’s office was:

I. Develop specific substance use treatment facility regulations under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, including with respect to educational qualifications for persons working in such facilities.

Security at the smaller, 12-bed centre on Juniper Drive is high on Michelle’s list of priorities.

According to Michelle, who still has her son’s cell phone (something she will not allow patients to have at the new facility), Brandon was waiting outside on the centre grounds for the drug dealer that night. One of the cell phone texts from another patient early in the morning of March 7 read: “He (dealer) should be any second,” which Michelle believes indicated the transaction was arranged by that person.

Brandon did eventually go back to his room to wait, texting the other patient to have the dealer come to his room.

“They brought the drugs right to his door, he used them and he was found later after he died, his last text to the other patient said: ‘just met him,’” said Michelle who added she had a bad feeling the next morning when Brandon hadn’t called or texted her. “It felt like a lifetime (talking to a centre staff member) but it probably was just two minutes for him to spit out that Brandon had passed away and it just didn’t compute.

“I told the staff the day before he was struggling and I wanted eyes and ears on him because he was at such a high-risk of relapse and they assured me he wouldn’t be left alone but they put him in a bedroom alone.”

Another of the recommendations was to the CEO of Sunshine Coast Health Centre to: Review security procedures and training with all staff.

She said part of the problem was Brandon could not continue taking the drug suboxone, which had controlled his cravings for the last two months, because the onsite doctor had not been given the exemption to prescribe the drug, although he did have the required training.

A photo of one of the rooms inside the new addictions treatment centre on Juniper Drive.
Submitted photo

According to the coroner inquest, licensing to prescribe suboxone was a more onerous process than it is today and the opioid antidote naloxone was not available at Sunshine Coast Health Centre at the time of his death. It does have both available now.

“The intent of starting the first Brandon Jansen Memorial Centre is that we’re going to do it properly,” said Michelle. “We’re going to implement a new standard of care, we’re going to check off all the boxes that are required in order to keep people safe while they’re in recovery.

“That means no locked doors so if someone’s overdosing on the floor dying, you don’t have to break down the door.”

Addictions doctors working one-on-one with patients, and more importantly, follow up services afterwards will also be in place.

“So we don’t just shake their hands and say: ‘good luck to you’ and off they go,” said Michelle. “The reality of it is that things need to change from a treatment point of view.”

Read more:Vees learning how to be community leaders on and off the ice

She added experience has taught her that relapse is part of addiction recovery and while many centres kick people out it if happens, that will not be the case in Penticton, instead more resources will be provided.

“Brandon was a good looking boy, six-foot two, blonde and he just had a zest for life,” recalled his mom. “He was very caring, he loved animals, he always had a twinkle in his eye and he always went out of his way to help people. He didn’t plan to be addicted. He didn’t want to be addicted and we will do our best at the Penticton centre to make sure other families will not have to go through what we have.”

Requests for an interview with the Sunshine Coast Health Centre were not returned. The open house for the Penticton centre is Dec. 15.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

An aerial photograph captures snowmobile tracks in the Cameron Ridge area earlier this year, which is closed to snowmobilers. The closures are in place to protect sensitive caribou herds. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Snowmobilers fined for operating in closed caribou habitat near Likely, B.C.

The investigation revealed they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read