THE EDITOR, Sir:
Wendel Abel, in an article titled 'Address Jamaica's mental-health situation', published in The Gleaner on Wednesday, February 1, stated that more efficiency was needed and that large mental-health hospitals were outdated and expensive.
"Bellevue Hospital's budget is $1.42 billion, or $146,000 per month for each patient," he wrote.
Either he needs to check his facts, or Bellevue is indeed grossly and questionably inefficient. I would like to see an itemised budget showing what each patient receives for $146,000 per month, or $36,666 per week. How many middle-class citizens spend anything near that on an entire family?
Human-rights concerns exist not only for patients at Bellevue, but also for those patients they send out to live on the streets and who have no family to depend on. At-risk people, and particularly the mentally ill, are visible on our country's streets often being abused and tormented by others.
Surely, a primary duty of any Government is to care for those who cannot care for themselves. At $146,000 per month, I am sure many small institutions or even families would be willing to shelter, clothe and feed, as well as provide medication, for one indigent person.
What is happening at Bellevue?