Psychiatric facility re-commissioned at New Amsterdam

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Psychiatric Clinic and administrative section of the National Psychiatric Hospital have been recommissioned after the building underwent refurbishing over the past six to eight months. This followed a collaborative review of the methodologies used to address psychiatric and mental illnesses by the Ministry of Public Health, and the Pan American and World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Director of Health Services, Region Six cuts the ribbon to the refurbished Psychiatric clinic.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and PAHO/WHO country representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow recommissioned the two-storey building and planted symbolic fruit trees in the hospital’s compound, on December 9.

Minister Lawrence told staff present, that in 2018, the Public Health Ministry will focus on improving the work conditions and services offered at the Psychiatric Hospital while equipping it to facilitate ‘in and outpatients’.

“We want to ensure that we can be able to have this place fixed in such a way that you are comfortable to work here, and that it puts you in a good frame of mind to be able to render service to others”, she explained.

The New Amsterdam Regional Hospital’s Medical Superintendent (ag), Vineshi Khirodar noted that before the refurbishment, the staff worked in “adverse conditions” but still executed their duties. She welcomed the work that was done thus far.

Based on a study tour of senior public health staff of Region Six to Belize; provided by PAHO/WHO, Minister Lawrence said, “We are hoping that we can move to the recommendations which they are implementing (in Belize) by the WHO and that is to stop housing persons with mental illnesses and other psychological disorders, and rather to treat them as outpatients because many times when they are institutionalised, that is where they remain for the rest of their lives. The stigma is so great that their families don’t want them back. Communities are not nice towards them.”

She explained that while there is a move to lessen the number of institutionalised psychiatric patients, “the refurbishment of the psychiatric hospital and it surrounding facilities is meant to ensure the staff is comfortable and persons within the institution receive adequate rehabilitative care”.

The minister also added that a new programme will be rolled out during the course of 2018 that will modify the way persons diagnosed with mental illnesses and are admitted to the psychiatric hospital are treated.

She also announced that her ministry will be assuming management of all GuySuCo health facilities, “As a result of that we will be placing some of the services that you offer here at those facilities so it’s closer to the neighbourhood. It’s within the community’s reach and people don’t have to pay much transportation costs to get there, and more importantly we can treat patients on an outpatient basis instead of institutionalising them,” she explained.

The Minister recognised the Ministry of Public Health’s “focal point in Region Six”, Alex Foster. He was instrumental in ensuring that upgrading of facilities and the compound was completed. Foster hinted that as time goes by, the National Psychiatric Hospital’s compound will also be transformed.

Dr. Adu-Krow, when he reflected on the state of the facility prior to interventions, enthusiastically stated that “The transformation that has taken place here is massive.” He, however, cautioned staff that patients should never be seen as inmates, “We should begin to see this place as a hospital. We have ‘in patients’ and we have ‘outpatients’. We use the word inmates in other settings.”

The refurbished building housing the psychiatric clinic and administrative building.

Minister Lawrence plants a fruit tree in the compound of the National Psychiatric Hospital, New Amsterdam Berbice.


By: Delicia Haynes


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