Reaching the age of 50, for many people, is usually a milestone worth celebrating in fine style. However, a cake and the company of her sister, Kim, would have been all that was needed to suffice for an enjoyable day for Sharmin Lewis.
Lewis, who is both mentally and physically challenged, turned 50 last week Wednesday.
What is interesting to note is that she did not spend the day at home among family members and friends, rather, she spent it with staffers of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] where she has been lodging since 2017.
This publication had reported that the woman was dropped off by a relative who claimed she was unwell. At the time she was suffering from anaemia, urinary tract infection and haematoma [a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues] to the head.
A sister, Kim Lewis, had claimed that the woman had suffered the head injury due to a fall, down a flight of stairs. Kim had claimed too that her sister resided with her at Lot 44 Fort Ordnance Housing Scheme, East Canje, Berbice. Before being transferred to the GPHC, the woman was a patient at the New Amsterdam Hospital. There were suspicions that the woman was abused.
But even after being treated and a period of recuperation and being discharged, no family member, including Kim, seemed willing to accept the light-hearted Sharmin back into their home. Moreover, the woman has remained at the public hospital even as Medical Social Workers at the hospital continue their quest to find a new home for her.
Medical Social Worker, Marcia Fredericks, simply could not allow Sharmin to spend her 50th birthday without some fanfare.
Moreover, she went ahead and planned a birthday party complete with a pretty pink and white cake, drinks and even birthday hats. It was an opportune undertaking, Fredericks noted, as it occurred even as the hospital was hosting a ceremony to celebrate its 20th year as a Corporation.
However, the only person who attended the party as Sharmin’s special invitee was a fellow lodger, Shivonna, at the GPHC. The woman, in her early 20s, was reportedly left at the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Unit by a brother two weeks before Christmas last year. “Based on the information we would have gathered, she was abandoned…because she was not brought in to see a doctor,” Fredericks explained. According to Fredericks, while the young woman was not found to be ailing, she does have a speech impediment and is visually impaired. “Because it was the Christmas season when she came, we didn’t just want to leave her, so we brought her up into the ward so that she could be around other people…so she is just lodging until we can find a place for her too, because it seems no family member is coming for her,” said Fredericks.
Both women are lodging in the hospital’s Female Medical Ward.
According to Fredericks, she would have been happy if a family member could have found it in his/her heart to at least take Sharmin home for her birthday. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Sharmin, who is barely able to speak clearly, mumbled ‘Kim’.
“I understand somebody came today [Wednesday] to see her [Sharmin], but just like how they came, why can’t they come and take her home?” questioned Ms. Fredericks.
With tears in her eyes, Fredericks spoke of being hurt to see the ladies completely abandoned by their own family members due to no fault of their own.
“This is taking a lot out of me; I am not normally a person who cries, but sometimes I just feel burnt out. I don’t want to force the family to take them home if they don’t want to, because I don’t want them to go home and then they are abused,” said Fredericks.
She added, “Many people don’t understand love starts from home; you cannot expect institutions and governments to love them. That is a problem we as Guyanese have; our values, our family structures are not there…everybody is just so self-centred.”
“Everybody may be touched by somebody with special needs and we have to look out for them. They don’t have a voice to talk for themselves, if they were able to take care of themselves they would not have been here. They didn’t ask to be here, they didn’t ask to come into the world,” said a compassionate Fredericks.
The GPHC, which offers free medical services to the public, has over the years been faced with the situation of persons being abandoned at the institution. In order to curb the dilemma, which has been dubbed detrimental to the abandoned individuals since they are exposed to infections, the hospital has been threatening to name and shame family members in hopes that the abandonment situation will be brought to a swift end.
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