Willemstad – After a two year process, a compulsory psychiatric protocol was approved between strategic partners Fundashon Kuido di Ambulans, General Practitioners, Klínika Capriles, Kuerpo Polisial, PSI Skuchami, and the St. Elisabeth Hospital.
The goal of the protocol was for the mandatory internment procedure, which is recorded in the National Ordinance for Care of Psychiatric Patients, to run more smoothly. According to Waldi Oostburg, the medical director of the Capriles Clinic, the clinic only admits patients that are a danger to themselves and their surroundings. The family is ultimately responsible for the relative that is a psychiatric patient, according to Imro Zwerwer, Inspector and Head of Unit Intake & Service of the Curaçao Police Force. “In case where public order is threatened or somebody’s life is a risk, or the incident happens in a public place, then only is the police obliged to restore order and that can be 24/7”, he explained.
Between 7:30 AM to 4 PM, the police are the first point of contact. Here the police will determine if the citizen needs psychiatric care and will fill in an edict. After office hours, during weekends and holidays, the citizen is taken to the emergency room at the St. Elizabeth Hospital, where a medical evaluation is done by a doctor. According the regular procedure, the police take the citizen to PSI Skuchami, where a doctor evaluates the situation and determines whether the person needs psychiatric care. Here, a medical certificate is granted and the citizen is transported via ambulance and escorted by the police to the Capriles clinic. At arrival, the psychiatrist on duty will evaluate the person and will determine if urgent treatment and internment is required. “At that point, the citizen become a mandatory patient for a six week period”, the medical director explained. Finally, there is a tribunal at the Capriles clinic, where a judge decides whether a patient is released or its treatment should be extended.
Mrs. Rita D. and her family live with this reality on a daily bases, because their son is currently interned at the Capriles clinic. “In the year 2000, my youngest son had an episode, which was our first experience with psychiatric care”, she explained. “My husband took our son to his general practitioner, who signed a medical certificate, so our son was able to be interned for a short stay”, she continued. Here her son was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, which often becomes evident when a person is between the ages of 18 and 35. Besides his metal problems, Rita D’s son also has a drug addiction, which exacerbates his psychiatric issues. Tragedy struck in 2001 when her son committed a crime and was incarcerated for a number of years. After his release, a very difficult time ensued for the family. Over a period of almost a year and a half, Rita D’s family had to call the police over ten times for incidents at their home. “At a certain point, the police didn’t want to come to our home anymore. The moment they heard our name, they would become fed up”, Rita D explained. Finally, the family was able to get the courts to intervene and put their son under the guardianship of the state.
“When someone commits a crime, he can be having a temporal psychosis, and with the right medication, he can function normally again”, Oostburg explained. The Capriles clinic admits that they don’t play a significant role in the reintegration process of a patient into society.
Psychiatric situations need to be dealt with immediately and are a #2 priority to the police.“That means that we need to respond within 20 minutes”, Zwerwer explained. The biggest problem, according to Zwerwer, is the lack of human resources. “We have yet to train the police force to properly deal with psychiatric patients, and I recognize that this needs to happen urgently”. He added. The protocol will be evaluated over three months, Zwerwer concluded.#mdpcuracao