Psychiatric patients displaced

Ten psychiatric patients have been released from the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital to cater for the new COVID-19 arrangement.

The Morobe Provincial Health Authority has decided to relocate COVID-19 patients from the Sir Ignatius Kilage indoor complex to ANGAU’s TB ward, displacing other patients in the process.

Staff at ANGAU were taken aback when a circular was delivered to the TB ward on the afternoon of Friday, the 1st of October, advising them that the new TB ward will be freed to cater for COVID-19 patients.

The decision was made by the senior executive management team without proper consultation with staff, especially the affected departments.

According to management, the TB patients will be moved from their spacious, well-ventilated 26-bed ward to the cramped 7C 26-bed medical ward.

Patients from 7C will relocate to the 14-bed psychiatric ward, while no alternative has been given for the psychiatric patients.

Acting nurse manager of the psychiatric ward, Manosa Uki, said as per the directive, they discharged 10 of their patients on yesterday morning.

“I don’t know where we will move from here,” he stated. “Maybe we will run the clinic or…where we’ll be stationed is up to the management to tell us.

“We only comply with the management’s decision so that’s what we did this (Wednesday) morning by discharging all our patients; those who were not even ready to go into the community but we had to discharge them to make space for the arrangement that is taking place now.”



Uki said they are greatly concerned as their patients have to faithfully take the medication supplied to them. It is easier supervising them in the ward but now that they are back in the community, the likelihood of relapse is high.

“Most of our patients, when they go into the community, they tend to forget about taking their medication and they go back to the stage where they become a community problem.”

Uki said their next option would be to physically visit their patients to ensure they are up-to-date with their medication. This, however, would be another challenge in terms of logistics, with Uki saying their patients are scattered around the province.

“Some substance abuse people, they go back and they start smoking drugs and drink homebrew and they start relapsing again. Unlike physical illnesses, mental illness is very difficult to get them back to their normal health.”

The psychiatric ward at ANGAU in-patient receives an average of 3 to 4 patients a month, while outpatient cases range between 10 and 20.

The staff there also deal with cases from the Buimo Correctional Service.

(Most of the beds in ANGAU’s psychiatric ward were empty by yesterday afternoon)

Carmella Gware