Let the church build it - Dr Crossman - Plans for Falmouth's 'halfway house' in limbo
As the need to find a suitable place to house the mentally ill persons roaming the streets of Falmouth, Trelawny continues to be a matter of much concern, Dr Lisabeth Crossman-Nugent, a psychiatrist at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James wants the Church to spearhead the plans to build a rehabilitation centre (halfway house).
"The church needs to get out of the pulpit and become very involved in the community," said Crossman-Nugent after learning that the Trelawny Municipal Corporation did not have the requisite funding.
The call for the removal of the mentally ill, especially the violent ones, from the streets of Falmouth intensified recently after 71-year-old pensioner Joycelyn Gomez was murdered on the steps of the post office by a man of unsound mind. Shortly after Gomez's death, another man of unsound mind, who had a habit of walking around and hitting passers-by with an iron pipe, was found dead with a bullet wound.
In bemoaning the need for mental-health issues to be taken seriously, Crossman-Nugent said stakeholders need to have a better understanding of the various issues and the importance of treatment.
"Mental-health problems are not to be seen as one that can be prioritised based on parishes...there needs to be a better understanding by all stakeholders," said Crossman-Nugent. "Persons with mental-health illness need help and treatment ... a halfway house can offer various forms of help ... there can be supervised living, independent living, and persons can be monitored and treated. We are in the business of primary prevention, not to wait until another murder is committed."
At Gomez's funeral, officiating minister Reverend Junior Rutty said he was ready to lead a march on the municipal corporation to spark action to address the problem of persons of unsound mind roaming the streets in Falmouth.
In a quick response, Falmouth's mayor, Councillor Colin Gager, promised that he would act on the matter with great urgency.
"I am going to put funds aside for the construction of a halfway house. We have land which can accommodate the building," Gager said.
Unfortunately, the mayor was forced to shelve his plans, as the money that was earmarked for that project had to be diverted to refurbish the Icy Allen Centre to house social patients relocated from the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital.