Public Defender’s Report on Monitoring Carried out at Tbilisi Mental Health Center
In the context of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus in Georgia, members of the Special Preventive Group of the Public Defender studied the epidemiological situation and protection of patients' rights at Tbilisi Mental Health Center.
The monitoring showed that patients at Tbilisi Mental Health Center are not protected from violence, inhuman or degrading treatment. They are not provided with psycho-social rehabilitation services, while the infrastructure fails to ensure the protection of their dignity. The Public Defender calls on the State to respond to the acute problems at the facility in a timely manner.
The Special Preventive Group received numerous reports of physical and psychological abuse of patients by the facility staff. Psychiatric care in the facility is virtually reduced to pharmacological therapy. Some of the patients receive the minimum therapeutic dose of medication and they do not undergo psycho-social rehabilitation. The institution does not have sufficient human resources to provide patients with the appropriate level of care, psycho-social rehabilitation, information, education or support to ensure their independent living or inclusion in society.
The infrastructure of the main part of the building is old and out of order. The multi-bed wards are overcrowded. Despite the epidemiological situation in the country, the sanitary-hygienic rules are neglected. Consequently, there is a high risk of spreading the infection. Against this background, the patients, who do not require active treatment and have a desire to leave the hospital, remain in the facility for years due to the lack of necessary services in the community.
The facility does not provide full treatment for the beneficiaries' physical health problems. Patients cannot receive timely or full dental care. Most of them have the status of voluntarily hospitalized patients, although in reality they cannot leave the facility completely or temporarily on their own free will. The facility does not have a complaints mechanism either. Most of the beneficiaries do not have information about their rights. They have their phones confiscated and depend on the good will of the staff if they want to contact their relatives, therefore their contact with the outside world is restricted.
The staff have not received appropriate instructions or qualifications to prevent the aggravation of the patient's mental condition, and when such aggravation occurs, instead of using various non-violent methods, the patients are forcedly tied up and injected for rapid tranquilization, which, according to the law, should be used as the last resort.
The report is based on the special monitoring visit paid by the Public Defender to Tbilisi Mental Health Center on September 15-16, 2020.