Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Psychiatric patient released from cage after uproar


A patient at Athalassa psychiatric hospital who had to self-isolate in a room that was little more than a cage for days after testing positive for coronavirus has been released, state nurses’ union Pasyno said on Thursday.

She will continue her treatment after she tests negative.

She was released after the hospital’s infection committee checked the facilities and found them unsuitable.

“Her family took her home early on Wednesday and she will return to the hospital for treatment once she tests negative for Covid-19,” Pasyno spokesperson Theodoros Petelis told the Cyprus Mail.

The patient was asymptomatic therefore she could not receive inpatient care at coronavirus reference hospitals.

According to the union, the patient was assigned to a tiny room meant for monitoring aggressive patients for only a few hours. The room did not include a shower or a toilet.

A wheelchair commode was the patient’s toilet

Pictures of the room published by Pasyno this week showed a commode wheelchair with a plastic bag which was used by the female patient as a toilet during the four days of her self-isolation while being treated at the psychiatric hospital.

“Would you accept a member of your family to be treated under these conditions?” their announcement said.

The union was responding to the state health services organisation (Okypy) that had published different pictures of the rooms and facilities that belonged to the same ward, but were not accessible to the patient, which showed there was a shower and toilets.

According to Okypy’s spokeperson, Charalambos Charilaou, the female patient was isolating in the cage because of a misunderstanding.

“After a discussion with the management of the hospital and according to the explanations provided by them, it seems the hospital’s infection committee gave incorrect information regarding the management of such cases,” Charilaou said.

The management of the hospital was under the impression they could not use the other rooms for treating the patient, he explained.

Pasyno accused Charilaou of failing to take on the responsibility for such a serious error, despite admitting the hospital received wrong information from the infection committee.

“Perhaps we are also to blame for not being more persistent and insisting on the issue to be addressed,” Petelis said.

Eventually, instructions were given by the infection committee for asymptomatic coronavirus patients to be treated in the ward that was used during the first wave of infections earlier in the year.

“I believe now, we will be more prepared to handle the next positive case,” Petelis said.

The nurses’ union had issued a written announcement on November 20, when the patient tested positive, demanding the relevant bodies to take action “so that the mentally ill are not treated as second-class citizens”.

Athalassa hospital was recently staffed with 13 additional nurses as part of the new hires agreed between Okypy and Pasyno in the summer.

However the building hosting the hospital and the facilities remain in poor condition, as stated in a report published by the ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides this September.



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