Monitoring Report on Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction
On May 7 and June 12, 2020, the Deputy Public Defender and members of the Special Preventive Group paid special visits to the Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction Ltd. The purpose of the visits was to study the measures taken by the institution to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and their impact on the patients’ rights.
The facility took certain measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, even after the approval of the state standard for the management of the clinical condition in psychiatric institutions under the conditions of COVID 19, the institution did not fully implement a number of recommendations provided by the standard. In particular, the institution did not test newly admitted patients for COVID-19, did not have fully isolated wards where newly admitted patients would be placed, did not daily check patients’ temperature, did not have disinfectant fluids, no information posters were placed in places easily accessible to patients.
The measures taken for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus had some impact on the patients' rights. It is worth noting that the patients' right to walk in the fresh air was restricted, which we consider inadmissible. As for the positive side, we should note the scarce but continuous rehabilitation activities during the epidemic. Meetings between patients and visitors were prohibited, although patients had the opportunity to maintain contact with their families and the outside world through electronic means of communication.
Systemic challenges characteristic of psychiatric institutions remain a problem. There are still patients in the facility who do not need active treatment but cannot leave the facility due to the lack of community services. Staff do not properly possess the de-escalation techniques and often resort to physical and chemical restraint. Managing patients' physical health issues also remains a challenge.
It should be noted that prior to the publication of the report, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction provided their opinions about the report to the Public Defender.