‘It was hell’

Mental health employee claims he was wrongfully institutionalized

A suspended employee at the Psychiatric Hospital is claiming “unfair treatment” as well as “wrongful” detention by authorities at the mental health institution last month.

Nursing Assistant Curtis Grimes, who has been working at the Black Rock hospital for the past 11 years, has retained attorney-at-law David Comissiong as his legal counsel and is now threatening to sue the institution for subjecting him to “seven days of hell”.

“I want somebody to pay for all the hell that I went through . . . .Coming out of this situation I would like to get myself in a better economic position. I think my pain was worth about $10 million because of all that has happened,” said Grimes, who is also challenging his indefinite suspension from work.

In a memo dated June 14, the hospital’s authorities accused him of “misconduct of a serious nature”. The memo explained that the 36-year-old nursing assistant had been absent from duty without leave or approval; had threatened a fellow officer; had failed to perform the duties assigned him and was negligent in the performance of duty.

Grimes was also accused of engaging in disorderly conduct in contravention of the public sector Code of Discipline.

“Owing to the nature of the allegations, it is my opinion that the public’s interest is best served by you ceasing to function in your position,” the memo signed by acting Hospital Director David Leacock and copied to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and the Chief Personnel Officer states.

When contacted by Barbados TODAY this morning, Leacock refused to comment publicly on either Grimes’ detention or his suspension saying, that “if Mr Grimes himself in anyway chose to share the information with you, that is his right as a citizen, but we in turn can’t divulge any information”.

 

However, Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that Grimes’ behaviour is now well documented at the mental health institution where there have been several reports of violent and aggressive behaviour towards staff and management. Sources with intimate knowledge of the situation also disclosed that one recent violent incident, which took place at the hospital, was the source of litigation and that the injured officer, who is now forced to use a cane periodically, has since opted for study leave.

However, Grimes’ attorney still believes the Government-run institution has a case to answer.

“He gave me certain instructions and I am going to write to the Psychiatric Hospital in relation to the instructions that he gave me, I don’t know where the matter will go after that,” Comissiong told Barbados TODAY.

Grimes’ situation is also of concern to the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which in a letter dated June 6,  had formally requested a meeting with the hospital’s authorities on his behalf to discuss a number of concerns. These include the manner in which officers are placed on leave, unfair restrictions on the use of the nurses’ lounge, lack of training for staff, the inconsistency in rostering for night duty, failure to issue uniforms, physical working conditions and claims of unfair treatment and discrimination.

“The NUPW looks forward to your urgent compliance in having the aforementioned matters amicably resolved,” the letter addressed to the hospital director and signed by NUPW Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond said.

In the meantime, Grimes has admitted to being involved in an altercation with the mother of his child on June 14 – the same day he was suspended from work. The woman reported the matter to police and Grimes was subsequently sent to the Psychiatric Hospital for an evaluation.

While not going into full details on the incident, Grimes said he was upset about the clothes the toddler was wearing and the fact that her mother had handed her over to him without any shoes.

And though admitting that the situation subsequently got out of control, Grimes said he did not behave in an aggressive manner to either the police or the mental health officials.

He said he was therefore surprised to be thrown into “an eight by 11 cell” in the maximum-security ward at his very place of work.

To matters worse, he said all of this was done without so much as a medical assessment by a mental health officer, which he deemed to be contrary to the hospital’s own procedures.

Grimes also complained that after he was initially placed on observation for 72 hours, he later found himself between a rock and hard place as he was left with no choice but to sign off “voluntarily” on his own extended stay at the mental hospital.

The only other option, he said, was for him to be “medically recommended” by his doctors for detention; therefore, he said, he went with what seemed at the time to be the lesser of two evils.

“The room was prepared for someone who was erratic but after his assessment, he [the doctor] determined that it wasn’t that drastic and I could have gotten things like a sheet and bed frame,” said Grimes, who has been permanently scarred by his recent experience.

However, he maintains that he is of sound mind and has no history of mental illness, while insisting that at no point during his institutionalization was medication ever given to him.

15 Responses to ‘It was hell’

  1. Sharon Taylor
    Sharon Taylor July 18, 2017 at 12:32 am

    More mad ppl out than in……

    Reply
  2. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce July 18, 2017 at 3:28 am

    He went in sane and came out insane. Therefore #Compensation.

    Reply
  3. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall July 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

    There are some that do worst than him still promoted and working.
    I wonder who running this dungeon that human beings have go and preform a duties.
    This is a self own department.

    Reply
  4. Tony Webster July 18, 2017 at 5:48 am

    @Veroniva….doan crack me up so, gal!

    Reply
  5. Saga Boy July 18, 2017 at 7:18 am

    This matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation. There are too many details being publicized. This should not be allowed.

    Reply
  6. Viveean Foster
    Viveean Foster July 18, 2017 at 8:44 am

    But ya hear Trevor Eastmond say all ah dem mad

    Reply
  7. Sheila Boyce
    Sheila Boyce July 18, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Sophia Wilkinson Nosaj Rellim Tina Samantha Murray

    Reply
  8. Tony Waterman July 18, 2017 at 11:28 am

    How come he never said a word about what his charges go through, but now he claims it is hell after having to go through it himself ???
    What goes around truly does come around.

    A picture does have two sides, but from reading between these lines, he has a problem, nor necessarily a Mental problem, but a problem anyway.

    Reply
  9. Milli Watt July 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    summary dismissal, committal to a mental hospital without a hearing before a judge condemned as a rogue and vagabond…….yeah I concur he got a case. Deal wid it David.

    Reply
  10. Ossie moore July 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Well ! Well ! This is one for Mallik when he was alive or Lord Blakey to perform! Use to be some fine nurses there back in the day!

    Reply
  11. Karen white July 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Curtis needs to tell the whole truth he did not mention that he took off all his clothes and walk the hospital resulting in him getting admitted. he beat one of his colleagues to a pulp. He should have been suspended long time for his aggressiveness.tell him tell the entire story.HE IS A FULL BLOWN MADMAN

    Reply
  12. Milli Watt July 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    ohhhhhhhhhh……….hmmmmmmmmm FULL BLOWN MADMAN and the employer condone the acts if they are true. I keeping track a dis one for sure.

    Reply
  13. Rupert July 19, 2017 at 1:24 am

    When did Malik die?

    Reply
  14. jeffrey Durant July 19, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I wonder if the staff do supervison ( go to see a conselur just for a chat and dicuss any issues. )

    Reply
  15. Umaru July 25, 2017 at 1:53 am

    During my tenure at the Psychiatric hospital, I witnessed the mental deterioration of both a doctor and many nurses. The question I asked then was

    “The doctors know when the nurse is mad, who knows when the doctor is mad / mentally ill?”

    Most of my colleagues looked at each other at the time because we were witnessing the mental deterioration of one of our psychiatrist who has since passed away; Nonetheless treated with all the respect of her profession by her colleagues. However the same cannot be said for other workers of the psychiatric hospital who end up becoming patients within the very institution which they work. I have witnessed and heard stories of ill treatment of persons (Staff) within the organisation.
    The hospital have taken a decision to look after their mentally affected staff in the maximum security section of the hospital – the area which houses those mentally ill persons who have committed criminal acts mainly murder. I always find this to be somewhat inappropriate and believed that better could be done however it appears that this has not been addressed.
    For staff members – After completion of their treatment – which could include being restrained and medicated- they are expected to return to the same environment with many of their patients / fellow inpatients.

    Having had discussions with 1 or 2 managers some time ago I realised the archaic thought process behind the management. There was and appears to be, no forward thinking and no ideas of progress for mental health in Barbados.

    Just like the politicians, it is about, “let me see how much I can get in this position before I leave.”

    More so it should be what I can do for my country, not what my country can do for me.

    I am unsure whether there is due process with regard to selection and application of the post of the hospital Director when this becomes available. It appear to me that it has been passed down from hand to hand by the outgoing head of department who chose someone who reflected his values. Sadly this has not served in the best interest of the psychiatric hospital or mental health in Barbados.
    This lack of foresight has lead to the deterioration of mental health services, lack of accountability of public officers, lack of motivation of officers and untoward incidents / deaths.

    The physical structure may appear to take shape but the core structure is ancient and unsupportive, either for the patients or it’s staff.

    Reply

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