Atrocious conditions at Guyana's National Psychiatric Hospital

November 23, 2011

“Two weeks back, we had 31 patients and we were given two cakes of soap to last for those two weeks,and last week we had to cut one of the soap in half,” said one of the people who have to care for the people in the National Psychiatric Hospital, Fort Canje.

Allegations of poor conditions and atrocious treatment of the female patients at the country’s lone psychiatric facility have surfaced.

According to an individual, who works within the facility and who did not wish to be identified, much more can be done by the administration of the National Psychiatric Hospital at Fort Canje in Berbice to assist the mentally ill patients.

“The patients don’t really have anything much to use, their utensils and so—whatever they have to eat in—are very old stuff. The water that they drink—the pitchers are very dirty,” the person noted.

The caregiver also provided photographs detailing the untidy utensils. She said that the hospital would normally distribute stocks and items for patients to use every two weeks, but that the number of items is very inadequate.

“We had to cut one of the cakes of soap in two and toilet paper and so, if patients can’t have their own, we just give them a piece. A lot of old stuff they have there. Some of the patients might be irritable at times, behaving badly and so, so they would have rooms in which they would seclude them.

“Now, those rooms, they don’t have—it’s just the bare concrete; the cold concrete those patients does gotta be on. They urinate sometimes defecate in the same room without anything there,” the person said.

Asked whether the hospital administration is aware, the person said that they would normally make regular checks. “All these people are aware. They know what’s happening but nobody is making an effort to complain or to do anything about it.”

“If they are spending so much of money on mental health, they’re trying to improve mental health—it’s not just improving mental health but improving the lives of these patients. Even though they are away from home, it doesn’t mean they have to be treated differently there. It should be the same as home.”

“The conditions that the females are in there, it’s not really good—for females at least. I think they should look into the stores area, especially the kitchen”, the source added.

Questions were raised about what happens to all of the items that the facility orders from a popular New Amsterdam Supermarket, which visits the hospital with truckloads of supplies regularly.

“Sometimes the food is terrible. It’s like fish, fish, fish all day. These patients does get fed up of the fish. [Name of supermarket] truck does be going in every two weeks, and I don’t know where all the stuff going.”

But these patients don’t receive the stuff. If we requisition for a certain amount, they would say that they don’t have.”

“Sometimes when you requisition the amount for two weeks, it’s far below. I want to know what they are doing with the stuff; where it really goes.”

“And the food, they really need to improve on the food. Not because these patients have a mental problem, means that they can’t eat properly or they don’t know what good food is. And greens and those things, you don’t even see greens; it’s curry, channa, chowmein, fried rice, and when you go in the kitchen in there you would see all these things they have stocked up. So what are they doing with the stuff? None of it is coming to the patients.”

While the allegations concern the patients housed in the female section or chalets, the source revealed that the situation could very well extend to the male population as well.

Source: "Poor treatment of patients at National Psychiatric Hospital surfaces," Kaieteur News, October 23, 2011. 


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