FORT CANJE, BERBICE – More attention is to be given to the National Psychiatric Hospital at Fort Canje this year. This is according to the Chairman of Region Six Zulfikar Mustapha.
According to him, once the 2010 Regional Budget is approved, some $7.5 million should be allocated to the National Psychiatric Hospital. The amount is provided for under the Capital Expenditure Programme for Region Six Heath Services – Maintenance of Buildings and other Infrastructure.
Parliament is expected to complete the debate today on the National Budget. Among projections for the mental facility are general maintenance and other work on the streets, pavilion, drains and installation of street lights in the compound and general outdoor cleaning.
According to the Chairman, many of the buildings at the mental hospital are up to standard and the Regional Administration has not been receiving any complaints. A decision is yet to be made on whether the Victoria Building should become a heritage site.
The mental hospital falls under the purview of the Ministry of Health but is managed by both the Ministry and the Region Six Health Authority while the Regional Administration deals with financial matters. In 2009 the Health Ministry injected some $53 million on a general rehabilitation of the institution.
He said work on the establishment is based on requests from its administration. In 2008 a committee was established and comprises members of the health sector and the Public Service Union. The function of this body is to look at improvement and to make the necessary recommendations to the Regional Administration.
Generally, the Regional Chairman believes that the facility is functioning as it should but it depends on the number of residents. He is concerned about the number of persons who live there because they were forsaken by relatives.
Meanwhile, touching on the situation with the guards, a source from the Health Ministry said that so far there have been no complaints but the guards are hired and managed by the Region Six Health Authority. The source said the National Psychiatric Hospital did not even get the amount of security guards requested.
Last week, another source close to the National Psychiatric Hospital had said that many things are needed in order for the facility to be able to function as it should and until then both staff and residents would continue to be short changed.
The National Psychiatric Hospital is home to some 144 residents, 75 percent are men, “It is badly in need of specially trained and capable staff. Many of the present staff members have little training in this field. A new batch of nurses came a few weeks ago but they are not trained in the psychiatric field. Training is usually done at Fort Canje with personnel from Georgetown. Years ago there were peace corps volunteers at the mental but we no longer have them.” The source had indicated.
The source noted that the eight chalets at the facility are all in need of some form of maintenance. Some of them though new need upgraded sanitary facilities. It is the hope that the architecture on one of the present run down structures – Victoria Block would be preserved.
Many of the residents of the institution have been living there for more than 20 years while others come and go. Apart from psychiatric ailments, there are those affected by substance abuse, the youngest being 17.
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