THE EDITOR, Sir:
I AM concerned about the proposed lockdown of the Bellevue Hospital, the country's primary mental health facility, as announced by the Minister of Health John Junor.
Having had the opportunity to work in a semi-rural hospital where acutely mentally-ill patients were often brought in, several inadequacies were highlighted. These hospitals, in my opinion, are not sufficiently staffed at times to deal with the current patient load, let alone to assist with the spill-over that would result from closing Bellevue.
The reasons stated for the impending closure are that the facility now houses several burnt-out schizophrenics and elderly patients who have been abandoned by their families. Also, the current practice of mental health at the institution is archaic and the institution is currently being used primarily as a hospice.
This may indeed be a fact but the public needs to know how the present patients would be dispatched. Will there be wards constructed at the different hospitals for mental health care or will the health centres assume a greater outpatient load? Will attempts be made to locate the families of these patients so they will now assume responsibilities for their relatives? If these families can be traced, will they be able to accommodate these patients or will they be forced out on the streets as occasionally occurs when they are sent home?
Couldn't the Government revamp the system at Bellevue so the current model of mental health care is brought up to date, or are there other undisclosed reasons for the closure?
Please Mr. Minister, consider all the possible options before deciding on closing the Bellevue Hospital.
I am, etc.,