Health, safety alarm

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By ERIC PIET
THE forced release of patients from a psychiatric hospital over a water supply issue poses a serious health and safety risk to the general public, an official has warned.
Laloki Psychiatric Hospital clinic supervisor Jeffrey Alphonse told The National yesterday that at risk was the safety of the patients in public and the people they came into contact with.
More worrying is the fact that some of the patients might have contacted the deadly Hepatitis A disease caused by the contaminated water they had been using, before their recent release.
“The premature release of our psychiatric patients to the communities presents a high risk to the people. They have not fully recovered and may cause unfavourable situations for people,” Alphonse said.
Hospital staff are staging a protest outside the hospital gate over the poor quality of the water used at the hospital drawn from bore holes, after Eda Ranu cut off the water supply.
They want the Department of Health to have the water supply re-connected before they return to work.
The use of contaminated water from the bore hole resulted in an outbreak of Hepatitis A last month. It forced the hospital management to release 100 psychiatric patients to their families.
Alphonse said they had to rush to the aid of one of the released patients who was causing trouble at the 14-Mile market on Tuesday. They managed to administer medication on her. He said two other similar cases involving the released hospital patients had been reported to them. However the more seriously ill patients are currently being accommodated in police cells in Port Moresby.
Alphonse emphasised that the potential spread of Hepatitis A by the patients could not be ruled out. Laboratory tests had confirmed the outbreak after the patients had already been sent away. They therefore are not aware that they may have contracted the disease.
“If that is true, people out there can be easily affected as its (Hepatitis A) transmission can simply be through using unwashed hands to touch food and water,” he said.
Alphonse said Hepatitis A was a deadly disease which could cause lead to heart and kidney failure.
He is advising people who may experience heart and kidney complications to immediately seek medical attention at a hospital or health centre.

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