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Nine Mental Health Patients Escape from Ingutsheni Hospital

Nine Mental Health Patients Escape from Ingutsheni Hospital

Nine mental health patients managed to escape from Ingutsheni Hospital after removing burglar bars from the healthcare institution.

Wellington Ranga, the acting chief executive of Ingutsheni Hospital, confirmed the escape in an interview, shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the breakout. He mentioned that stabilized patients are sometimes granted leave of absence to stay with relatives for up to two weeks, or as part of a gradual reintegration process into the community. However, it’s unclear if the escaped patients were on such leave or if their escape was planned.

“The nine patients escaped through the window by removing burglar bars. Some had started returning to the hospital in the care of relatives or other caregivers the following day,” he said.

Ranga highlighted the challenges faced by mental health institutions, particularly regarding anti-social behavior linked to alcohol and substance abuse. He noted that many patients express a desire to return home, where they may have easier access to drugs and alcohol, contributing to their behavioral issues.

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“Should the relatives not be forthcoming because of the anti-social behaviour exhibited by the patient or they delay to come for them, the patient may decide to abscond.

“Some patients may have a previous history of breaking windows, doors and other types of infrastructure, so when they do this in hospital the others simply follow them,” he said.

The escape, which occurred on April 13 of this year, prompted immediate action from hospital authorities and law enforcement agencies. As of now, three of the escaped patients have been located and brought back to the hospital. Efforts are underway to locate and secure the remaining six patients.

“Unfortunately, the numbers have gone up of those abusing substances. Patients who escape from rehabilitation wards where they are being prepared for reintegration into the society do not usually destroy or damage infrastructure as they easily sneak away with some of them coming back on their own,” he said.

“Infrastructure is constantly repaired and there is ongoing health education for the relatives and community to encourage and empower them to provide social support for the patients.”

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