MWI failed my son, says mother
The island’s psychiatric hospital failed to do enough to help a schizophrenic son, his mother has claimed.
Carol Burrows, 65, said that the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute did little to help her look after 28-year-old Eric Richardson, who she had to throw out of her home after he attacked her several times.
Ms Burrows added: “Whenever they let him go I did not get any visits from anybody from MWI.
“It’s like they were happy to see him go.”
Ms Burrows, from Warwick, said that paranoid schizophrenia was diagnosed in her son ten years ago and he had been in and out of MWI for years. He also suffered from a drug abuse problem.
She explained that caring for her son became difficult because he often refused to take his medication.
Ms Burrows said: “When there’s a crisis, it is usually brought on by the individual not taking their meds.
“Sometimes it escalates to the point where, in Eric’s case, he starts to get aggressive.”
She added Mr Richardson was detained in MWI under the Mental Health Act, in August 2017, to ensure he took his medication.
However, Ms Burrows said that there were no follow-up tests with Mr Richardson after his release to see if he was coping or if his family needed any help.
Ms Burrows added the hospital offered parent support groups, but provided no advice or information on how to handle an at-home patient.
She explained: “I did go to one last year that offered strategies and, again, those strategies did not particularly work with Eric.”
Ms Burrows said that she alerted MWI to concerns over Eric’s behaviour last December and in April, but he was assessed as stable after two examinations.
However, Mr Richardson attacked Ms Burrows, punching her several times in the head, only days after the second evaluation.
Ms Burrows said: “The time where I pressed charges, I called them on Friday. He attacked me on the Sunday.
“They said ‘just see how the weekend goes’.”
Ms Burrows said that a psychological assessment carried out during the police investigation found that Mr Richardson suffered from severe cognitive impairment.
She added that this was not picked up by doctors at MWI.
Ms Burrows also said: “This was not the first time he had hit me; it was the first time I contacted the police.
“I pressed charges in the hopes of getting him into Mental Health Court to get help.”
Curtis Burrows, Mr Richardson’s uncle and a former psychiatric nurse, said that he was not confident that his nephew’s treatment plan had been adhered to.
He added: “My nephew was in the hospital for six weeks last time and I had purposely asked him ‘How many times have you spoken to your nurse?’ I think he said once.”
Mr Burrows added that Ms Burrow’s main interest was her son’s health.
He said: “It’s not to say ‘well, let’s press charges against MWI and the establishment for malpractice’.”
However he added: “If ever there was a period where there possibly could have been grounds for malpractice, it was that instance when, for five months, she was crying out because there was no compliance on his part.
“Something more should have been done than ‘see how the weekend goes’.”
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Hospitals Board said for MWI could only step in against an adult’s will when they posed a threat to themselves or others.
She explained patients, whether voluntary or compulsory, were assessed inside 24 hours of admission and a treatment plan was prepared.
The spokeswoman said the plan was updated throughout a patient’s stay, based on the patient’s progress and information from the family and an outpatient case worker.
The spokeswoman added that meetings with a psychiatric nurse were optional for voluntary patients who had been discharged.
She said that detained patients had to take their medication and undergo scheduled assessments.
She added: “While we cannot make details of an individual’s care public, we would urge the individual or his family to contact us so we can review their experience in more detail.
“We would be keen to make process improvements if warranted, as our primary concern remains the care and safety of our service users and the community.”
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