Heads to roll in T&T over forcible admission to hospital

(Trinidad Express) Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has said people will be fired from one of two Government ministries or the St Ann’s Hospital if his investigation into the Cheryl Miller affair proves there was a breach of protocol in either how she was admitted to the hospital or how she was released from the facility.

Khan, in a telephone interview yesterday, told the Sunday Express that while he would abide by the High Court’s ruling on Friday, he was doing his own research from both sides of the issue.

Cheryl Miller, an accounts clerk, was removed from her desk at the Ministry of Gender and Youth Affairs at Tower D of the Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, 15 days ago and placed directly into the St Ann’s Hospital. On Friday, at an emergency High Court sitting, Justice Vashiest Kokaram granted Miller an immediate, but temporary, reprieve and allowed her to spend one week away from the institution.

She was released in the care of her older brother and sister until her second court visit on Friday. “It would appear that somebody broke protocol and that led to another breach in protocol when the mental health workers went to the Ministry,” he said. “Someone has to be held accountable. Either the Ministry of Gender Affairs or the Ministry of Health. Someone with clout broke protocol.”

Khan said while he could not dismiss or discipline anyone, he would refer the matter to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure someone paid for the breach.

He said there were two issues he had to look into: how Miller was brought to the mental institution and why her doctors allowed her to leave.

Khan maintains Miller is suffering from a clinical psychological issue and needs further medical attention. He said when he spoke with her doctors on Thursday morning, they told him she was not going to be allowed out of the hospital. “I asked them then what would happen if that matter ended up in court and they said even then they would not be able to discharge her because she was in the middle of her treatment. I even asked them if she could be released to family and they said no. So how could that no change to yes in a matter of minutes?” Khan asked.

He said all the doctors involved in this matter will have to give an answer. “Why did they approve the (High Court’s) release?” he asked, referring to the legal case which allowed Miller to go home.

Khan said he is expecting a report from hospital seniors. “While I have to abide by the court ruling, I want to know why she was allowed to leave. I want an explanation as to why they changed their position so quickly,” he said.

He said the findings of both sides of the investigation will be turned over to the head of the PSC and he will follow “whatever action they deem fit”.

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