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St. Maarten Mental Health Foundation to court in quest for permit

WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2012

PHILIPSBURG–Mental Health Foundation (MHF) took the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour to court on Tuesday, in a bid to obtain the necessary permit for the admittance of psychiatric patients to its facility.
The permit concerns the involuntary hospitalisation and/or treatment of individuals who are exhibiting behaviour that is a danger to themselves or others.

Previously, these persons were held in police cells with the cases requiring hospitalisation being referred to the Capriles Clinic in Curaçao.

This situation changed after October 10, 2010, when it was agreed that each island would have its own mental health facility. Minister of Justice Ronald Duncan then designated MHF as the facility for involuntary hospitalisation in St. Maarten.

MHF has been providing psychiatric aid since 2006, and has a special unit with cells available for involuntary hospitalisation.

The Minister of Justice has authorised the involuntary hospitalisation, but MHF cannot work without a permit from the Ministry of Public Health.

In the injunction, MHF requested such permit and also asked the court for permission to carry out its duties until the permit has been issued, attorney-at-law Wim van Sambeek said.

Attorney Richard Gibson Jr. said the health ministry had not provided a permit, because the Inspectorate of Health would have established that MHF would not be in compliance with the requirements for a mental health institution.
The Ministry of Public Health would be in favour of transferring involuntary hospitalisation to Turning Point Foundation, which mainly provides drug rehabilitation programmes.

“MHF employs a psychiatrist, Turning Point doesn’t,” Van Sambeek said in response. “MHF is taking care of involuntary hospitalisation on the Minister of Justice’s orders since 10-10-10 and with subsidy of the Ministry of Health,” MHF’s lawyer added. The judge will give his decision on Wednesday, October 10.

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