Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Shortage of experts a concern for Sbrana

The increasing number of forensic patients at Sbrana Psychiatrist Hospital in Lobatse is cause for major concern for the hospital’s management, which is grappling with a serious shortage of experts in its psychiatric units.

Forensic patients are patients with a history of criminal offenses.

The modern hospital, which adopted its services from the country’s colonial past, is worried about the security issue brought about by this group of patients.

It’s said that substance abuse could be a contributor to the making of a forensic patient and the hospital is trying to curb that by taking the subject of substance abuse seriously. The hospital offers substance abuse counseling through group sessions.

Although the hospital cost the government a whopping P360 million, it continues to have numerous challenges; one being that, due to local services being heavily skewed towards health services, the psychiatrist hospital is currently faced with a shortage of psychiatrists as well as psychologists. According to Mpho Thula, who is the Hospital’s Acting Superintendent, there are only 3 psychiatrists at Sbrana while there are 6 vacancies. She said that the situation is worse in general hospitals where there are currently no psychiatrists.

“We are also facing a shortage of psychologists; there is a high turnover because they are not paid well. We also have no specialist nurses in areas of child psychiatry and forensic psychiatry,” said Thula.

Thula said that another hindrance to the successful running of the hospital that is bigger than stigma is the fact that mental illness is generally not prioritized, resulting in underinvestment in the services.

Sbrana Hospital is described as a state of the art facility with three hundred beds, which is double the number of beds that the Old Lobatse Mental Hospital had.

Its admission area has 12 wards, 2 male and female wards, 2 forensic wards, male and female rehab, male and female psychogeriatrics, children and adolescent wards, as well as a private wards.

The hospital has a day hospital, occupational therapy department, psychology department, social work department, Diabetic department, outpatient department, Pharmacy, laboratory, 24 hour service as well as substance abuse counseling.

Thula said that despite all the challenges they face, the mental health workers nevertheless continue to do very well to provide quality care and, therefore, need to be applauded.

However, the hospital has had success in areas such as training of nurses and in its campaigns for stigma reduction. There are also a number of hospitals that have incorporated psychiatrist facilities and these are hospitals, such as Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital, Mahalapye Hospital, Sekgoma Memorial Hospital and Scottish Livingstone Hospital.
The hospital is also receiving some support from the community for those who are socially vulnerable.

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