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500 patients at Yerwada reunited with kin

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ET Health
09th January, 2019 11:59 IST
The issue of long-stay patients has been prevalent at psychiatric facilities across the country, with Regional Mental Hospital (RMH), Yerwada, being no exception. About five months ago, around 1,800 patients were lodged at this facility, resulting into blocking of beds. This circumstance, however, changed over couple of months due to a hospital team that traced down the families of 500 such patients, who hail from Uttarakhand, Chhattisgrah, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kochi, Gujarat and even from Nepal. As a result the number has come down to 1,171.

Dr Abhijeet Phadnis, medical superintendent of RMH, said, “While this will ensure that beds are not blocked by long-stay patients, it will also help in reliving patients, who no longer require care. The staff’s effort has untangled the problem and it will continue.”

The endeavour has worked in the favour of patients a 28-year-old from Nepal and a 29-year-old from Bihar, whose tragic stories have finally found an optimistic closure.

The Nepal native, who had stepped out of his native village for the first time, had come to Pune in search of a job with a friend. After unsuccessful attempts, they decided to return and it was during this course the patient was separated from his friend, lost in unknown surroundings. He suffered a trauma that induced psychosis, after which he was brought to RMH by the cops, where he was admitted since last eight years.

The 28-year-old recovered five years ago, but still remained at the hospital. In December last year, he spoke about his family after prolonged silence, following which the hospital traced them to the village. The Nepal police coordinated with the hospital staff and through a video call, the family confirmed his identity. They came to Pune and were reunited.

Similar is the case with the Bihar native, who was absconding from his house since eight years. He was brought to the RMH by a non-governmental organisation that found him roaming on the streets of Khed. Gunjan was admitted as an unknown patient. He lived at RMH for seven years, despite being fit for discharge. It was last month that he was reunited with his family.

These are two of the several patients, who have been recovering from psychotic illnesses and some have even been disowned by their families. While admitting them at the facility, they deliberately have given wrong addressed so that the person could not return after he/she was discharged. In several other cases, the kin were unaware that one of them is admitted at the hospital. The recent efforts taken by RMH staff, however, have brought averitable change in the situation.

Dr Madhu Patil, deputy superintendent of RMH, said, “A team of ten social workers strived hard to trace the whereabouts of the kin. They have been successful in their attempts even after receiving just a single word or a phrase from patients, who after take time to open up about such details. In some case the patients even tell their full address and name once they are stable.”

These officials joined hands with cops of the respective states and districts and even gram panchayat. They also used video calling facilities for confirmations from families, who are then asked to visit the hospitals with documents.

“In cases, where the family readily accepts back the patients, it is easy to trace and reunite. Same is not the case with the ones who are disowned by the family. Sometimes it happens that we reach out to a family — despite them giving the wrong address — who then refuse to accept the patient. It takes days of counselling before they come to terms with the situation,” said Dr H SGosavi, senior psychiatrist at RMH.
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