Mental health patients at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Coast in the Central have been taking advantage of the facility’s weak infrastructure to abscond.
A total of 26 patients absconded in 2016 and in 2017, the figure shot up to 39, statistics from the Hospital have revealed.
Checks by 3news.com have revealed those who absconded may have broken through the windows at the wards.
The wooden louvre blades in some wards have been taken off and the washrooms at the ward leaking.
An emergency exit door at one of the wards has been under lock and key because the mental patients were taking advantage of it as an escape route.
With the number of mentally deranged persons increasing in the metropolis, there are fears about the repercussions of the situation on the public if the government does not intervene.
Established about 53years ago to render accessible, quality and efficient mental healthcare, the Hospital has not seen any renovation.
It is bedeviled with enormous infrastructural challenges that are threatening its collapse, risking the lives of both staff and patients.
When 3news.com visited the facility, the rooms were filled with pungent stench.
The Nightingale ward which is popularly referred to as the VIP was in a bad state to the extent that even the patients had abandoned it.
Patients who are brought there sometimes refuse to stay due to the nature of the place, a nurse who spoke on anonymity told 3news.com.
The road leading to the reproductive health unit of the Hospital where expectant mothers deliver has very bad roads, posing a risk to both the mother and unborn child.
Some staff say it is very risky to travel along such roads as mothers could be forced into labour.
The mortuary at the Hospital, which was a major source of revenue, has also broken down for two years now.
The staff quarters is also a death trap now. Iron rods from the four-storey building are now exposed to the vagaries of the weather. Electrical wires were equally exposed, posing a threat to staff of the Hospital.
Apart from infrastructure, drugs meant for mental health patients which are supposed to be supplied to the facility for free are now sold by some pharmacies due to failure by government to provide subsidies on the drugs.
“As for the drugs, we are sometimes compelled to take monies from the families of these patients in order to provide drugs for them else we won’t be able to get any.”
An aggrieved physician assistant said patients complain that food served them are not enough and blame the nurses. Some even attempt to attack the nurses.
When contacted, Medical Health Director, Davis Otuo Serebuor, expressed worry about the situation.
He said the solution to all the challenges is to adopt a maintenance culture so there wouldn’t be access for these patients to leave the wards.
“The Mental Health Authority is aware of the conditions here but we are yet to hear anything concerning it”, he said.
The structure, he said, if put in a better shape, could help generate the much needed revenue to run the facility.
He therefore called on private organisations, corporate bodies and individuals to offer their support to these neglected patients who may pose a serious risk to society if not well catered for.
By Adwoa Adobea-Owusu|3news.com|Ghana