Psychiatric patient dies two weeks after hospital blaze

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…victim’s mother says: “the system has failed me”

By Svetlana Marshall

Approximately two weeks after a fire erupted at the National Psychiatric Hospital at New Amsterdam, Berbice, one of the 11 patients, who suffered has died.

Dead is 38-year-old Wewoushi King. King succumbed to his injuries on Friday, June 18, 2021. His mother, 66-year-old Dester King is now calling for justice.

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“Somewhere along the line, they [the hospital] erred and the system has failed me, and very much. My child has died because of negligence at the New Amsterdam Hospital and I need justice,” Dester King told Village Voice News on Sunday night.

Dester King explained that prior to her son’s admission to the Psychiatric Hospital, he was living with her at Lot 112 North Haslington, East Coast Demerara. In fact, Wewoushi King was only admitted to the Psychiatric Hospital approximately five (5) days before the fire.

His mother explained that on May 29, 2021, Wewoushi King, who suffered from a neurological disorder, was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital after he became “restless.” After receiving the requisite treatment, the 38-year-old man was admitted to the Psychiatric Ward. Two days later on May 31, the elderly woman received a call from GPHC indicating that her son would be transferred to the National Psychiatric Hospital.

Dester King told Village Voice News that days later she learnt that there was a fire at the Psychiatric Hospital on June 5, however, she had no clue that her son was among those injured, though the Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony had assured the nation that the relatives of the injured men would be contacted.

“I was never contacted; so I had no clue that my son was injured,” she told this newspaper. As scheduled, Dester King visited the National Psychiatric Hospital at New Amsterdam on June 8, and it was then that she was informed that her son was among those injured during the fire.

Dester King – mother of the now dead Wewoushi King, who succumbed to his injuries

Dester King and her granddaughter, who had accompanied her to the hospital, were informed that Wewoushi King had received “minor injuries” and was admitted to the New Amsterdam Public Hospital. But upon arrival there, they were informed that the 38-year-old was being transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC).

The elderly woman made her way to Georgetown but in the interim, contacted her daughter, and asked that she too visit the city hospital. Upon her daughter’s arrival, Wewoushi King was in a wheel chair in GPHC’s Accident and Emergency Department awaiting medical attention.

“If that boy was so badly burnt with two others, I think they should have gotten first preference but they had to wait their turn. In any case, my daughter, when she saw her brother, she couldn’t recognize him; his face was swollen, his neck was badly burnt, his back was burnt and both of his hands,” she said.

The grieving mother said while the hospital had indicated that her son had suffered “minor burns” it was clear to her that he had suffered 3rd degree burns. “When I got there, girl I started to cry; he started to cry. It was a terrible sight to see, to look at my child,” she said. Dester King said her son was admitted to the Burns Care Unit hours after his arrival at GPHC.

On June 9, 2021 the concerned mother reportedly visited both the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Georgetown Public Hospital, Brigadier Ret’d George Allan Lewis; and the Minister Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, however, she was only able to meet with Lewis. The GPHC CEO she said, however, offered no tangible solution to the concerns she had expressed. However, while at the Human Services Ministry, she learnt that the social worker from Georgetown, who was attending to her son, was never informed of the fire.

Days later, the 38-year-old father of one died.

Dester King expressed disappointment that despite a commitment by the Health Minister that relatives of the injured men would have been informed, such was not the case, though the hospital had her contact information.

“I was not informed, and number two, I think they could have done better. When the persons came from Berbice, they should have had first preference but they had to sit and wait. Is that an Emergency Unit? No it wasn’t! That wasn’t good enough for them,” she said.

Dester King added: “I sent him there, he was a healthy child and somebody along the line should have called me and tell me what was going on and nobody did. If I didn’t go to New Amsterdam, I wouldn’t have known that my son was burnt; and secondly, that he was being transferred.”

Now, she said the State must bury her son. “The President will have to know; the First Lady would have to know that the Minister of Health has given false report to this nation,” she added. Dester King warned that if she is not given a satisfactory response, she will take legal actions against the state.



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