Several patients injured, others escaped after fire was set to psychiatric hospital at Canje

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Several patients at the National Psychiatric Hospital in Canje Berbice were injured while others escaped when fire was set to the facility Saturday night.

Police and firefighters were able to put out the blaze, but not before several of the patients escaped from the facility. Police up to late Saturday night were searching for them.

Reports reaching Village Voice News state that patients set two fires to the hospital both of which were put out by firemen. During the inferno, some of the patients got into a fight, resulting in several of them being injured and had to be taken go to the hospital. This newspaper was told at least one of the patients is in a critical condition.

Saturday night fire comes days after a a patient was killed during a fight at the institution. That incident left 41-year old, Rohan Sunthgulm of East Canje Berbice dead while 38-year old Lionel Roberts, of the said village is nursing injuries about his body.


Sunthgulm was allegedly murdered by a fellow inmate in the ward where they were staying. According to relatives, the man suffered from epilepsy and only recently, as a result of his sickness, he injured himself after falling. His sister, Sandra Sunthgulm who spoke with reporters noted that he received a gushing wound to his feet when he fell and he was immediately taken to the New Amsterdam Hospital for medical treatment.

However, due to the fact that he is an epileptic case and was once a patient at the psychiatric hospital, he was taken back to the institution to spend some time. Three days after being admitted back into the institution, the family received the news that he was allegedly murdered at the institution.

“He does get seizure and so and two weeks ago he get it and he completely lost it and he keep walking around the place and he ended up falling and cutting his foot on a piece of zinc. We take him to the hospital and they give him some stitches and so and then because he used to take treatment at the mental, they took him back over there. Three days after now, my brother get a call from someone at the hospital that my brother is in the hospital and when we go by the hospital, we sit down and wait a little then a doctor came out and told us that he died,” a relative related.

The man’s sister noted that the autopsy result showed that he had a fractured skull. As such, they are calling on the health authority and the police to conduct a thorough probe into the incident.
Sandy noted that her brother was not a “mad man” but rather he suffered from a sickness that is out of their control. However, she noted that there are no proper systems in place to protect patients of the psychiatric hospital.
“My brother just needed a little help and that’s why he was in there but they put him in there with a set of violent people and now we lost a loved one and nobody has anything to say to us”
She described her brother as a kind and loving person who never interfered with anyone. She also noted that the family has not been coping well since his death.

Meanwhile, Ameena Haniff, grandmother of the injured man, Lionel Roberts had said when she visited her grandson at the institution she noticed that his knees were bruised but didn’t question him. However she noted that on the next day when she visited, Roberts indicated to her that someone had tied him up and covered his face with a sheet and burnt his knees and his feet.

Haniff said after being informed about the incident she had asked for the young man to be discharged from the institution.
“I hear that them kill a boy at the mental so I ask for him to come out because I afraid if they bun him and kill him too so I bring him home”
Haniff noted that she resides in the United States and when she visits Guyana she would usually take him out of the institution and then take him back when she is ready to return home since he does not have his parents with him., or anyone at all to take care of him.

“I don’t have nobody to take care of him and to be honest, I don’t want to go back because if I put him back there, I am afraid they kill him and I will lose him”
Haniff explained that her grandson is not a psychiatric patient as multiple tests and scans have proven negative, however, she noted that Roberts suffers from a speech impediment for a number of years. She said they did countless tests and even took samples to New York for further examination only to be told that the young man’s brain is “functioning well’.
Regional Chairman, David Armogan during an interview on Wednesday said that there is usually one nurse at the ward and due to the violent act on the day of the incident, the nurse had to pack up and leave before being injured by the attacker. He noted that interventions will be made to have stricter security measures at the institution so as to avoid another such incident.

“In these wards that are more violent, we will have to put more securities. I don’t know if that will help too because sometimes, even securities have to run to save their lives. It I a chaotic situation in there with 24 people who are mentally ill”
Regional Health Officer, Dr. Vishalya Sharma noted that contacts were made to both families and support was given, meanwhile the police were informed and an investigation has been launched.

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