Apr 06, 2016 News
—aims to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations non-violently
Advancing mental health care is not an undertaking that the Ministry of Public Health
can undertake in isolation. This notion was emphasized by Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, when he addressed a gathering at the start of a workshop yesterday at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)’s Resource Centre.
The two-day forum, which is in fact a Code White/Restraint workshop for Social Workers, Counsellors, Police Officers, Nurses and Medical Doctors, is being spearheaded by the Public Health Ministry, in collaboration with a five-member Canadian Mental Health team.
According to information out of the Ministry, two sessions of the workshop were slated for yesterday and another two will be held tomorrow. Approximately 15 individuals are expected to participate in each session.
This is the first time a workshop of this nature is being hosted by the Ministry of Public Health, and its objective is to train persons on how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations in a non-violent manner.
Minister Norton, during brief remarks at the start of the workshop yesterday, made it clear that mental health is high on the agenda of his Ministry.
“I am pleased that we are able to collaborate with Dr. Peter Kuhnert and the Canada-Guyana Mental Health Team to host this Code White/Restraint Workshop. Advancing Mental Health care in Guyana is a process which cannot be undertaken solely by the Ministry of Public Health. Therefore, it also pleases me to see that stakeholders such as Social Workers, Counsellors, Police Officers, Nurses and Medical Doctors are participating in these educational sessions.”
He continued by pointing out yesterday that the Public Health care system is a people-oriented one, and the Ministry therefore views with significant importance, the safety of patients and the medical personnel who attend to them. Moreover, he underscored that a ‘Code White’ response is intended for a situation in which a patient is behaving in a potentially dangerous manner towards himself or others.
The workshop is therefore seen as an important one given the unsavoury behaviour that has been exhibited in the past by persons believed to be of unsound mind.
A few years ago a young man, then a student of the Brickdam Secondary School, was able to escape with his life following what was described as a “vicious attack” by a mentally challenged man outside of Parliament Building. The victim was rushed to the GPHC where he received sutures to close two lacerations to his head as a result of the attack.
And there have been cases where persons of unsound mind were engaged in the act of breaking windscreens and other threatening behaviour to which police ranks responded. In some such cases the end results were violent to the perpetrators, and a few even ended fatally.
As such the Minister enlightened the participants yesterday that during the planned educational sessions, they will be trained in areas such as patient safety, team safety, de-escalation of conflict and how to avoid a ‘Code White’ situation.
In fact he informed them that core training and education on non-violent crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques are very important and can go a long way in patient care. Added to this, he pointed out that addressing the behaviour of patients in a respectful, caring, safe manner is critical to the process of preventing situations which may prove dangerous to patients, health care workers or other members of the public. He also stressed its importance in the prevention of damage to property.
“I want to urge you to take full advantage of the training opportunities presented to you here today (yesterday) as well as to pass on any knowledge you have gained to your colleagues,” Minister Norton told yesterday’s participants.
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