Kaieteur News – An old man named Ovid apparently was deposited at the Georgetown Public Hospital. His relatives reportedly never came to visit or discharge him.
When his case was publicised in the Kaieteur News, one person tweeted that he knew the man from Enterprise, East Coast Demerara. Yet, we have seen no report about anyone in the media trying to locate these relatives and seeking an explanation as to why he was not visited by them or collected from the hospital following his discharge.
But we were treated to a story about a Good Samaritan who had visited Ovid at the hospital and took some food and clothing for him. That is great news! But what about tracking down the man’s relatives.
Ovid must know the names and address of his relatives. All it would have taken was few phone calls or a visit to the man to find out the name of his relatives and his former address could have been located and the relatives questioned as to why he was abandoned.
This matter is of public interest and not only of human interest. While it is nice to learn that Ovid has now found a residence in a state-owned and run home for the elderly and indigent, there remains a major concern about citizens depositing their elderly residents at the hospital and abandoning them.
One of the most disturbing trends in Guyana is the practice of families dumping their aged relatives at the Georgetown Public Hospital. In many instances it has been found that after the patients have been admitted, the relatives are not seen or heard from and the hospital becomes saddled with the responsibility of finding somewhere for the patient to go after the patient would have been discharged.
In some cases, some people check themselves into the hospital and refuse to leave. In one instance, a man refused to be discharged. And after he was asked to leave, he attempted to be re-admitted to the hospital because, it would seem, he has nowhere else to go and the hospital serves as a hospice for him. The man no doubt felt comfortable living in the hospital and did not want to leave.
In other cases, relatives are engaged in the practice of abandoning patients at public institutions. They are washing their hands free of the problem and are dumping their problems on government institutions.
The hospital is saddled with abandoned patients. A few years ago, the hospital took a discharged patient back to the address he had given, the persons there refused to accept him.
Children are also being abandoned. A few years ago it was reported that two children had been abandoned by their parents, both of whom were said to be alcoholics.
However, as much as we can criticise the relatives of abandoned patients, it is a great financial and psychological burden to attend to bed-ridden patients at home. Some persons also do not have the patience of the medical professionals to deal with such cases.
There are terminally ill cancer patients who are at home and unable to do things for themselves. And the cost of providing them with pampers and with the nursing care required is prohibitive.
There has long been a need for nursing care to be provided to persons at home. This is something which the government and NGOs need to look at.
Relatives should not be provided with any encouragement to abandon their loved ones at the hospitals but there is an urgent need for specialised nursing care for persons and this care should be provided in their homes. In the United States there is a system in which persons who are elderly or bed-ridden are provided with helpers for a few hours each day. This is a great relief to families. The government should pilot such a scheme on a small-scale initially.
A few weeks ago, a video was circulated on social media in which a policeman shackled a man and then pulled his feet from under him and dragged the man into a cell. It was expected that the rank would have been charged and placed before the courts but nothing has been heard since about this matter. The media should follow up on this matter.
In another case, a man was seen on a video being slapped by a police officer in Berbice. Nothing has also been heard about whether any investigation took place into this matter.
The media has to do its work and follow-up on these matters which are of public interest since they relate to the issue of justice within our society.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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