Saturday April 19, 2014

RCMP on lookout for Vernon psych patient

Residents from Vernon to the Lower Mainland are asked to be on the lookout for a Vernon psychiatric patient who walked out of Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 20.

Dale Chernenkoff has been in and out of hospitals, typically in conjunction with disturbances he's caused in various communities.

"I don't know for sure if he's volatile," said Gord Molendyk, spokesperson for the Vernon RCMP. "But we do have some health concerns for him and he should get back to the facility."

Chernenkoff was last seen on Dec. 20 wearing a black leather coat. He's described as Caucasian, 30 years old, five feet 10 inches tall, heavyset at about 240 pounds with long blondish brown hair and a slight beard.

The police were unable to provide a photo.

Chernenkoff contacted a relative in Lower Mainland, leading police to suspect he may be heading to the coast. He also has relatives in Alberta and may be heading northeast.

Anyone who knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact Crimestoppers.

Chernenkoff is only the latest patient to walk away from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital psychiatric ward over the last several months.

Within a 10-day period in November alone, RCMP issued three public alerts after patients left their care.

Molendyk said such incidents have led to suicides, criminal offences and attacks on police officers.

Media reports state that neighbours have seen patients hiding in bushes and in one case, a frantic naked woman ran into a neighbour's house. Police eventually restrained her by tackling her to the ground.

Vernon Jubilee Hospital Health Services Administrator Nancy Serwo said there hasn't been an increase in the number of patients walking away.

But there has been a change in the way RCMP responds to such incidents when they're called.

She added hospital staff always looks for ways to improve and always seeks the return of missing patient "so they can finish off their care here to ensure that we support their wellness."

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