Mount Carmel is ‘revolving door’ for former patients with nowhere to go

New ward so overcrowded that mattresses are being placed on the floor so as to have enough sleeping places for incoming patients

Denise Grech
28 September 2017, 7:53am
The Attard hospital is aware of 10 patients who return to Hall 8B once every few days
The Attard hospital is aware of 10 patients who return to Hall 8B once every few days
Officials at Mount Carmel Hospital have said that homeless drug rehab patients have been turning to the mental health hospital for a place to sleep at, resulting in what psychologists and mental health nurses are calling a ‘revolving door’ at the hospital.

Former patients discharged following a drug rehabilitation course, also continue to return to Mount Carmel in search of shelter. “They feel comfortable with us,” managing director Maria Assunta Bonello said. “We give them methadone, which reduces the withdrawal effect of drugs, or take them to Mater Dei if need be, but we cannot let these individuals roam the streets with nowhere to stay.” 

Mt Carmel’s Hall 8B was recently thrust into the spotlight when Democratic Party MP and former health minister Godfrey Farrugia published a letter calling on the Health Commissioner to launch an investigation, after he accused the hospital of violating patients’ rights.

No strict protocol is in place and the patients are residing in a “chaotic and tense atmosphere,” after the halls segregating men and women became mixed, Farrugia said.

The ward has been assigned for these chronic patients to have a place to stay. Seven new beds have been added to the 10 beds in the hall, but Bonello says these new additions might not be enough, as former patients continue to turn to the hospital.

The hall eventually became so overcrowded that Mount Carmel had to place mattresses on the floor so as to have enough sleeping places for the incoming patients.

The influx of synthetic drugs such as flakka, a synthetic drug that sends people into frenzy, has exponentially increased the number of drug addicts and, subsequently, of patients returning to Mount Carmel for somewhere to stay, Bonello continued. 

Synthetic drugs have exacerbated the problem, which are now offering a cheaper alternative to drugs like cocaine. “Their family members and friends often give up on them, leaving them with their backs against the wall,” Bonello said.

The Attard hospital is aware of 10 patients who return to Hall 8B once every few days, often high on drugs, and ask for a place to rest.

Health Commissioner for Mental Health John Cachia is informed of the patients and is conducting ongoing talks with NGOs Caritas and Sedqa to encourage them to take the patients in. 

The homeless shelter Dar San Frangisk has taken in some of these individuals, but has subsequently had to refuse them following altercations with other residents.

Assunta Bonello insisted that the patients have a social worker, occupational therapist and forensic psychologist following their case, but that “patients sometimes refuse treatment or rehabilitation because they lost hope that they will ever be sober again.”