Doctors to Inspect Overcrowded Shelters Where Mentally Ill Patients Are Dying

By webadmin on 12:18 am May 23, 2009
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Arientha Primanita

Alarmed by the rising number of mentally ill people dying in government-run shelters, the city administration is sending a team of doctors on Saturday to check on the health conditions of patients in the facilities, a city official said on Friday.

Data from Jakarta’s Social Agency showed that 239 psychiatrically ill people in the facilities died between October 2008 and May 2009 from acute diarrhea, anemia, malnutrition or a combination of the three illnesses.

At least 182 of those who died came from four city-run shelters: Harapan Sentosa 1 in Cengkareng, West Jakarta; Harapan Sentosa 2 in Cipayung, East Jakarta; Harapan Sentosa 3 di Ceger, East Jakarta; and Harapan Sentosa 4 in Daan Mogot, West Jakarta. The remainder came from Duren Sawit Hospital in East Jakarta.

“On Saturday, the team of doctors will go to some of the shelters to check the patients and to bring medicine so there will be no shortage,” said Effendy Anas, the city’s assistant to the People’s Welfare Office.

Based on the data from Harapan Sentosa 1, out of 644 patients, 53 people died in 2007, 98 died in 2008 and so far 140 people have died this year.

In Harapan Sentosa 2, out of 428 residents, 20 people died in 2007, 29 died in 2008 and 38 people have died in 2009.

In Harapan Sentosa 3, from 326 residents, five people died in 2007, four died in 2008 and two people died in 2009. From Harapan Sentosa 4, out of 289 residents, seven died in 2007, five died in 2008 and two have died this year.

Dien Emawati, head of Jakarta’s Health Agency, said her agency would send on Saturday the team of doctors and officials to the Harapan Sentosa 1 shelter in Cengkareng and the Harapan Sentosa 2 shelter in Cipayung.

She said the agency was prioritizing the two shelters but they would consider visiting the smaller shelters.

“The psychiatrists are from Duren Sawit Hospital and the general doctors are from the agency,” Dien said. “We will also bring sanitary equipment and sanitary officials because it is important for the patients to have a clean environment.”

Dien said officials and doctors from local community health centers would also join the team. They would bring medicine to treat mental illness as well as general medicines.

She said the health agency would cooperate with the city’s social agency to deal with the issues. “The social agency takes care of the shelters while the health agency takes care of the medications,” Dien said.

Dien said that in addition to the illnesses the patients suffered from, their conditions were worsened by overcrowding in the shelters. She said there were three times as many patients as there were available beds in the facilities.

“It’s so crowded, the environment there is bad and has at times led to outbreaks of diarrhea,” she said, adding that her agency had sent essential medicine to the shelters to help treat the problem.

Dien said that overcrowding had also forced staff to place aggressive patients in the same room with passive patients, resulting in frequent attacks.

She said the malnutrition problem was caused by limited human resources as many mentally ill patients needed to be assisted when eating.

Dien said the health agency would refer the patients of the shelters to the Duren Sawit Hospital and Dr. Soeharto Mental Hospital in Grogol, West Jakarta.

The patients’ medical costs would be paid for by the city’s health agency.

Budiharjo, head of the city’s social agency, said his office was ready to cooperate with the health agency by visiting the shelters directly to give assistance and to help the team.

He also said the visiting team would conduct social work in the shelters.