Bellevue to Be Transformed, Not Shut Down

President of the Psychiatric Association of Jamaica Dr. Earl Wright agrees with the governments plans to transform areas of the Bellevue Hospital into a chronic care facility for discharged patients that have no place to go  while maintaining other areas to treat patients who require in house care. 

The announcement was made during his presentation at the Ministry of Health and Wellness public forum on Mental Illness held at the Bellevue Hospital last Thursday (October 10, 2019)  in which he shared that out of the 600 plus patients at the facility , 486 of them have been discharged with nowhere to go. 

 President of the Psychiatric Association of Jamaica and Chairman of the Mental Health and Homelessness Task Force Dr Earl Wright outlines to the crowd the proposed plans presented to the government to transform Bellevue

“Most of the discharged patients have been here for a long time and also a lot of them are senior citizens that require minimal medical or nursing care, which does not require a hospital setting,” said Wright.

Additionally, Wright, who is the Chairman of the 2016 appointed Mental Health and Homelessness Task Force, shared the proposed  plans for the restructuring of Bellevue which would tackle the issue of long term care in two phases. Phase one would include establishing a chronic care facility that is separate from the hospital and used to house long stay discharged patients, while they are rehabilitated and reintroduced to society.

 “It is feasible for the Bellevue Hospital management team to manage this adult care facility separately,  physically ,and administratively from the hospital. The structural facilities are already in place and with that advantage the cost of building new facilities would not be incurred”. 

Phase Two according to Wright  would entail an assessment of the new adult care facility management after 12 to 24 months to decide on how it will be managed on a long term basis.

“ The advantage of taking this two stage approach is that it simplifies the process and makes for a smoother transition with less likelihood of serious problems arising and more time to implement necessary changes. It is also likely to create less anxiety among Bellevue staff concerning their status and employment”

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton who chaired the evenings proceedings also confirmed to the crowd that, despite the circulating rumours,  Bellevue would remain open.

“Bellevue is NOT shutting down. We will be using the recommendations made by the task force to restructure and reorganize, separating those who are clinically able to be rehabilitated from those who need to be institutionalized.” 

Tufton

He further outlined that with 4 out of 10 people suffering from a mental illness, the government has committed a major refocus to treating such disorders and promoting mental health. 

“We are raising the awareness through our new media campaign, including a twenty-four hour helpline, expanding the mental health personnel across the country, improving the mobility of mental health staff so they have greater access to communities. We are training more psychiatrists to be deployed at hospitals and we are joining forces with critical partners.”

Dr Tufton, encouraged all Jamaicans to recognise that mental illness can affect us all and the national campaign will seek to encourage people to speak up about issues around mental illness, as we seek to encourage treatment and rehabilitation for persons who are affected. 

Audience members listen keenly to presentations

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