673 patients abandoned by their families at Bellevue Hospital
Two years after The Gleaner reported that the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston had been operating as a homeless shelter, close to 700 persons who have been discharged from the institution remain there receiving long term care.
According to a performance audit of the hospital by the Auditor General’s Department, in February 2016 Bellevue had 795 in-patients and 85 per cent of them or 673 were considered stable based on their clinical assessments.
The Department reports that the 673 patients had been discharged and should have been at home with their families.
However, hospital officials say the patients remained at the facility because of family neglect and other social issues.
The Auditor General said that the institutionalisation of patients after they have been discharged is counterproductive to their rehabilitation and reintegration and could be deemed as a violation of their rights.
The AG adds also said the institutionalisation of patients prevented the hospital from admitting new clients for in-hospital treatment on 494 occasions, between June 2013 and January 2016.
In her recommendations, the Auditor General said the release of the patients and community-based mental health care promote better outcomes for patients and is cheaper.
The Auditor General also said the Health Ministry should immediately explore the benefits associated with the implementation of the mental health reform plan – including the relocation of patients from Bellevue Hospital to community-based living facilities.