Sane indeed, but no takers

M. Sai Gopal
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Close to 150 inmates of the Government Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Erragadda, find themselves in an unenviable state. All of them have successfully undergone treatment and are waiting to get discharged from the hospital and get on with their lives. The catch, however, is that they are stuck at the hospital, with neither relatives nor police and hospital authorities able to make arrangements for their release.

With no support from friends or relatives, or any vocational skills to fall back on, they simply while away time in the special outpatient wards. Incidentally, some slip into depression and are re-admitted, while a few desperate souls even try to escape only to be brought back by police.

Naturally, their condition worsens by the day thanks to lack of social workers and specially-trained nurses at the hospital. Sometimes, when police manage to pin down a patient’s address, either it turns out to be a fictitious one, or the relatives have already moved to another place. To top it off, the condition of the hapless inmates is compounded every month. “Monthly, a discharge committee (DC), consisting of eminent doctors, visits the hospital to analyse patients. The names of those who react positively to the treatment are added to the discharge list, and such patients are shifted to outpatient wards, which are already filled to the brim,” doctors say.

According to the hospital authorities, the responsibility of taking discharged patients back to their homes falls on police, who seldom display keen interest in the matter. “We have been consistently demanding a police check-post on the hospital premises. But handling such patients is least on the priority list of police,” doctors maintain.

“We are putting up the proposal once again in our hospital development meeting. The presence of a police check-post is needed, which will help us to properly handle our inmates,” says Hospital Superintendent Dr. V. Pramod Kumar. Owing to the presence of a large number of “permanent” inmates, the hospital infrastructure has come under undue pressure. The hospital has no laboratories and trained personnel for routine tests like X-ray, blood tests, ECG and EEG. Even facilities to conduct psychological assessment of patients are lacking thanks to the absence of a clinical psychology department.

Despite having successfully undergone treatment, nearly 150 inmates of the Govt. Institute of Mental Health are held up at the hospital, with no arrangements in place for their release



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