Fire at Psychiatric Hospital “unfortunate”; probe underway – Dr Anthony

Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony says the fire which erupted at the National Psychiatric Hospital at Fort Canje on Saturday last was “unfortunate”. He noted that an investigation is underway to determine exactly what transpired.

“They would conduct an investigation as to what went wrong and why this happened. We should be able to have that report and based on the recommendations in that report, we’ll take additional steps,” the Minister said.

In the meantime, he said measures are in place to accommodate patients. He noted too that plans are being developed prevent a recurrence. Several persons which were housed at the Fort Canje facility are still nursing burn injuries.

“It’s unfortunate that we had the fire. But we had some aggressive psychiatric patients at the Fort Canje Hospital…The night when the incident occurred, we had to remove the patients to safety. Some of the patients were initially transferred to the New Amsterdam Hospital because a number of them would have incurred burn injuries,” Dr Anthony noted.

Following an assessment of the damages, works will commence to rebuild the facility and relocate displaced patients.

“Those arrangements, we hope will be temporary arrangements. Yesterday (Sunday), a team went down to Fort Canje. We were able to do an assessment of the damages done to the building and hopefully, we’ll be able to start the repairs of that building so that persons can go back at the hospital there. As of now, we have been able to safely house the patients that have been displaced because of the fire.”

Reports are that the fire was started on Saturday evening by inmates, displaying signs of violence and aggression.

This publication had reported that that some 32 patients were housed in the admission ward and there was only one nurse attached to the ward at the time of the incident. The Police and the Guyana Fire Service arrived in a timely manner and the firefighters were able to extinguish the small blaze without having to enter the building.

However, a second fire was started, again by the inmates, which caused some of the patients to suffer from smoke inhalation. According to the official, the second fire was set in the ceiling of the building. She related that some of the patients succeeded in ripping out the door made of iron bars and escaped.

This resulted in a mass exodus of patients trying to make their way out of the compound of the NPH. While the others were recaptured, one person is still on the run.