ANY lack of action by the authorities over the unregistered private mental home at Santa Cruz where a patient stabbed seven other patients last Saturday will set a very bad precedent and encourage other operators to open similar illegal institutions, feared former health minister Dr Fuad Khan.
He told Newsday he strongly lamented both the operation of the home and any lack of official censure against the operators. Khan said any home that accepts individuals for treatment of a medical nature must be registered and approved by the Ministry of Health.
“It is being used as a facility for medical patients, so could be considered a private medical centre.” He said this is not an old folks home that goes under different legislation pertaining to social development.
“This is a private hospital facility that caters to a specific group of people which are mentally-ill patients and so they have to pass through the Private Hospitals Act, and be approved by the Ministry of Health after assessment. “So unless that happened they would have been operating as an illegal hospital.”
He said that Act covered private hospitals and nursing homes. Asked if he had ever before heard of any illegal asylum in TT, he replied, “Not at all. Not accepting mentally-ill patients specifically. You may have an old person with Alzheimer's Disease but you treat him as an elderly person in an elderly home, but overt mental illness such as schizophrenia or paranoid schizophrenia have a violent nature and violent history with them, so you have to conform to a specific management area.”
“If somebody is running a home for mental patients who are medical patients, illegally, and a criminal activity takes place as a result of running that home, they are subject to criminal liability.” He said the police should find a way to charge them for criminal liability.
“If nothing happens here they have said a precedent for other people to open these homes, house these patients, without any problems.”
Last weekend a mentally-ill woman got angry after being stopped from buying a roti and she used a Chinese chopper, knife and scissors to wound other seven patients, until subdued and tied up by a 62 year old neighbour.