Sectioned patients to get overseas care
Patients with serious mental disorders will be given the opportunity for overseas treatment in specialised facilities thanks to the passing of the Mental Health Amendment Act in the Senate today.
Junior Minister for Home Affairs Crystal Caesar said the act aims to “provide for a patient who is liable to be detained and who needs to find criteria to be transferred to a hospital overseas for detention and treatment where such treatment is not available in Bermuda”.
Ms Caesar said: “When considering the need for making such arrangements for mentally disordered persons it became apparent that while the Mental Health Act provides for a person suffering from a mental disorder to be lawfully detained in any hospital, the authority granted to the Minister of Health … is limited to local facilities only. In order to establish authority to provide the necessary treatment overseas it is proposed to introduce a new section to enable the Minister of Health to discharge a patient detained in a hospital in Bermuda and conveyed to a hospital overseas.”
The arrangement is for those who are sectioned and in need of intensive treatment not available on the island which is about four to five patients currently.
Ms Caesar added: “It is akin to needing acute medical care in tertiary hospital centre for a stroke or premature baby. Bermuda cannot provide all hospital treatment — it is neither cost effective nor safe. “The need to transfer overseas for specialised medical care is a natural consequence for our size, location and isolation. The clinical, technical and legal teams have made the necessary accommodation to assure the safety and human rights of such persons and that they are protected including some family visitation and medical coverage.”
Senate president Joan Dillas-Wright took the opportunity to welcome the amendment as a former administrator of Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute when it was St Brendans.
“This was an issue that was long standing and that was discussed at length. I am very, very pleased to see this come to fruition because it was certainly something that I along with the psychiatrist at the time were trying to arrange.”