Oct 15, 2012 News
The National Psychiatric Hospital (NPH) has seen a whopping 379 new cases so far for the year.
This is according to figures obtained by this newspaper during a recent interview with officials there.
The figure points to a startling fact that a mental health problem may be brewing in Guyana, since it does not take into account the many undocumented cases of mental health sufferers.
From January to September this year, 9,915 patients were seen in the out-patient clinic at the NPH, with patients receiving 100 per cent prescribed drugs.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA), Dr Vishwa Mahadeo has dismissed reports that the patients at the NPH are malnourished and has assured that the patients are getting good quality of meals every day.
He was responding to allegations and what he termed “rumours” that the patients at the mental health facility were undernourished and dying because of the lack of good quality food.
He said that questions were being thrown in the Parliament about the issue. He noted that the dietary budget at the hospital stands at some $20M per year, which allows the patients at the facility to get three meals per day, plus two snacks.
“A lot of people don’t get that in their homes,” he said.
“We have improved and we continue to improve,” Mahadeo added.
The accommodation at the facility will be boosted, too, with 30 more beds when the acute care centre is completed shortly.
Retirees in the health field, he said, are being called back to serve, especially those whose skills are greatly needed.
“We bring you back to help us, to promote health in the region,” he stated.
Mahadeo alluded to the National Mental Health Strategy and plans to resuscitate the NPH Advisory Committee so that the facility can function better.
Additionally, the CEO stated that there is a special budget for the NPH to buy medication “and we have got the most modern medicine available to manage mental health and mentally- ill people.”
From time to time, he noted, there will be problems “and we have to deal with these problems, but we can say with a clear conscience that we have come a far way at the NPH–and I daresay that we have come a far way! Can we say that we have reached where we want to get? I would loudly say, ‘No!’ we have not– we still have a far way to go.”
Ten million dollars, he said, has been injected into improving the landscape and compound of the hospital. That will be dedicated specifically to upgrading the compound; the drains, lawns and the cricket ground that once hosted national cricket matches.
The multi- million dollar acute care centre, which is presently being constructed in the hospital compound, is expected to be finished and put in use by the end of the year. The farming project, consisting of a fish and chicken farm is also expected to get on stream soon.
Training of an international standard was given to nurses, making them full-fledged psychiatric nurses to deal with mental health.
Over the last three years, the facility trained a batch of 21 psychiatric patient-care assistants, the first ever in Guyana and in the Caribbean.
“In fact, the other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America are looking at our programme to possibly implement it.”
In all the primary health care facilities in Berbice, he said, there are staff members trained to identify and manage at the beginning stage, two psychiatric illnesses: anxiety and depression.
“They will identify the patients, start managing it, and then they are also trained to know when they should refer to the NPH for expert management,” Dr Mahadeo explained.
The In-patient Department ensures proper management of all patients admitted to the institution. To date, there are 95 admissions and 84 discharges. It was revealed, too, that the Pharmacy Department ensures that safe, effective and adequate medications are always available for both in and out-patients, with 4,949 prescriptions being filled so far for the year.
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