Pubdate: Sat, 06 Sep 2003
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2003 Allied Newspapers Limited
Author: Ariadne Massa


Mount Carmel did not "throw anybody out on the streets", a psychiatrist who
works at the hospital said in response to the claims of a 29-year-old drug

Just days before he died of a drug overdose, a distraught George Cefai told the
YMCA he had been "thrown out" of Mount Carmel and had nowhere to stay.

"Every person who is discharged has a plan and nobody is thrown out on the
streets - they are discharged and offered alternative accommodation," said the
psychiatrist, who did not wish to be named.

Mr Cefai was discharged by Mount Carmel.

The psychiatrist said that while there were people with drug addiction who had
mental problems some were not mentally ill.

"Ultimately, the hospital is not a provider for bed-and-breakfast. The reality
is that we became doctors and nurses because we have the people's interest at
heart - people are discharged from here with a plan," he said.

"Nurses often give these people clothes and some money. Free meals are also
arranged in certain cases."

On Thursday The Times highlighted the dilemma that drug addicts faced, with the
YMCA and Suret il-Bniedem pointing out the need for a shelter for severe cases
like Mr Cefai.

YMCA Valletta chairman Jean Paul Mifsud felt the need to break the silence in
an attempt to avoid similar deaths of people who fall through the social safety

Why would people who find themselves in the situation of Mr Cefai refuse the
help offered by the hospital?

"Often these offers are not taken up, mainly due to the fact that the addiction
takes over but also because each individual has character traits which can lead
them to take decisions that are not always logical," the psychiatrist said.

The psychiatrist echoed the recommendation made by YMCA and Suret il-Bniedem
that Malta needed to set up a shelter.

"The situation of drugs and homelessness is increasing and nobody is talking
about it - these people are not all mentally ill and cannot continue being put
in Mount Carmel," he said.

"This is the sad reality and an extremely complex situation."
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