Rights panel has taken case following media reports

The Mental Health Centre (MHC) will be provided with adequate number of doctors, paramedical staff, and security staff, District Collector K.N. Satheesh has said.

The Collector, who visited the MHC along with the Additional District Magistrate and the District Medical Officer on Friday, said that he had met Health Minister Adoor Prakash and had conveyed his impression that more staff were urgently needed to handle the affairs of the hospital and to care for the patients, many of whom were severely ill.

Judge's comments

Mr. Satheesh said that he had visited the hospital following the adverse comments entered in the visitors' book by the District Judge, who is also the chairperson of the monitoring committee to look into the affairs of mental health care institutions, after he visited some wards.

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had also taken a suo motu case on the basis of some media reports that 19 women in the chronic mental illness ward were being kept in the nude. SHRC member R. Natarajan had asked the MHC Superintendent to file an immediate report on the incident.

Only four cells

Mr. Satheesh said that it was evident that given the severe state of their mental illness, it was extremely difficult to care for these patients and to keep them clean. “The women in that particular ward are too ill and I am told that they are in the habit of tearing their clothes off. Often, they soil themselves so badly that they need to be hosed down. It is a sad state of affairs but it is a fact that the hospital lacks adequate rooms to keep these patients individually,” he said. There were only four cells. If the patients were kept separately, the staff would be able to manage them better, he said.

He said that there were only two employees to bathe the 19 women. Most of the patients had been here for years. “We have to appreciate the cleaning staff for the work they are doing. It is important that the hospital is given adequate support,” the Collector said.

The Health Minister was apprised of the situation and the need for the hospital to have more doctors and head nurses. Mr. Satheesh said that he was confident that adequate funds could be raised to create better living facilities in the hospital. Poet and social activist Sugathakumari also visited the Mental Health Centre on Friday.

Handed over

Meanwhile, the MHC Superintendent said that 14 patients of the hospital, who had fully recovered so as to be sent home, had been handed over safely to the Institute of Mental Health at Ayanapuram, Chennai. The Chennai authorities would send the patients back to their own homes after getting in touch with their relatives, he said.