Yerawada mental hospital to rehabilitate 214 long-stay inmates
Sheetal, a 69-year-old with a learning difficulty, has been discharged from a mental hospital in Pune after 50 years, but her family has not contacted her. Similarly, Sohan, 62, has spent 33 years at the same hospital despite being fit for discharge. The hospital is now working to rehabilitate long-stay patients who have been cured but have no visitors or family willing to take them back. In partnership with rehabilitation centres, the hospital will send 42 patients to begin new lives outside the facility.
Sheetal (name changed) with a learning difficulty was 19 when her family from Vidarbha admitted her to the Regional Mental Hospital (RMH) in Yerawada 50 years ago.
Her family visited her during the first month before they shifted their house and the hospital authorities were unable to find them.
With proper medical care and attention, doctors have allowed the 69-year-old to be discharged from the hospital, but no one from family has inquired about her over the years.
In a similar case, Sohan, 62, was admitted to RMH in 1990 as a wandering case and brought by cops for medical aid. He was undergoing treatment for epilepsy and learning difficulty. Although his condition improved in a few months and despite being fit for discharge he has spent 33 years at the facility.
Dr Sunil Patil, medical superintendent, RMH, said, there are several inmates admitted at the hospital despite being cured and fit to be discharged. These inmates have no visitors, no calls and even their own kin are not willing to take them back.
“We have initiated mass rehabilitation for 214 inmates who have been cured but living at the hospital for over a decade,” he said.
The list of these patients has been prepared and will be sent to rehabilitation centres in a phased manner. Starting last week of November, 42 inmates will be sent to the rehabilitation centres.
The RMH has tied with Sanwad Rehabilitation Foundation, Chaitanya Aarya Arjun Foundation and Kinara Old Age Home to rehabilitate the inmates. Of the 214 long-stays, 123 are female and 54 male.
RMH currently has 1,035 inmates, including 593 males and 442 females. Almost 500 inmates are rotational patients who at regular intervals get admitted and discharged. The hospital rehabilitated 31 inmates on Wednesday and the remaining 11 inmates will be rehabilitated on Thursday.
Dr Sunil Borade, administrative officer, RHM, said it is common for the families of recovered patients to disavow them but in the case of these inmates, most of them had no families and unknown patients. “They have been living in the same location for the past several years unexposed to the outside world. In a few cases, the patients can also go into relapse. It is important to them to start a new life,” he said.
Rahul Shirure, trustee, Chaitanya Aarya Arjun Foundation, said, “Our rehabilitation centre is like a happy home for them and today 16 female inmates came to our institute. The educated inmates will be provided with some small work and occupational therapy. Regular health checks, counselling and group activities will be conducted for these inmates. We have occupational therapy like envelope making, bag making and handicraft making. Efforts will be also taken to trace the family of these inmates and to bring them into the mainstream.”