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Dominica could soon have an initiative in place for the rehabilitation of vagrants, if Government makes the necessary resources available.

This is according to head of the psychiatric unit at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Dr Griffin Benjamin, who said the programme could be launched before the end of 'Summer', if the essential components are in place.

Dr Benjamin said Cabinet has already approved the psychiatric unit's proposal for the programme, which is to be conducted at the PMH.

He explained that the proposal is for the introduction of a day care programme for vagrants. The vagrants will be taught to change their behavior and live better lives.

The doctor said that the plan is to improve vagrants' physical and mental health progressively to the point where they can better integrate with society and possibly acquire jobs.

However, the section of the hospital compound earmarked for the project needs to be landscaped to make the environment more inviting, Dr Benjamin said.

The plan includes setting up a basketball court and expanding the laundry service at the PMH to facilitate the programme.

Further, the proposal calls for the deployment of a qualified social worker, a well-trained counselor, a senior nurse and a skilled occupational therapist to manage the programme effectively.

Meanwhile, Dr Benjamin disclosed that the PMH psychiatric unit has withdrawn from an outreach programme to give medication to vagrants in an attempt to help their condition.

He said medicating vagrants is not always the best option as many of them do not need medications.

"They walk like robots and the public becomes angry with us," he said, adding, "Most of [them] are useful in the marketplace; they throw garbage; they carry load, cylinders and groceries for people…"

"They don't need my medication…they need homes, tender loving care….Medication turns them into neurological complications…" he said.

Dr Benjamin noted that while many vagrants have mental illnesses, not all of them are psychotic.

He pointed out that the unit can only admit those who are psychotic.


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