”What More Needs to Occur?”


”What more has to occur so that my mother can stay hospitalized?” he inquires. Since March 2023, his mother, a 77-year-old psychiatric patient, has been in and out of the University Hospital of the Canary Islands (HUC) in Tenerife. However, Montserrat denounces that she still does not have a precise diagnosis or medication. ”I have numerous diagnoses from my mother. Some coincide, others don’t,” she states.

Every time she is discharged, her situation at home deteriorates. Last year on November 6, her mother self-harmed. She was hospitalized and under observation in Psychiatry, but eight days later the doctors attempted to discharge her. ”They told me this isn’t a hotel, there aren’t enough beds here,” she mentions.

Montserrat refused to take her mother home but claims that a few days later, she was brought to her house in a medical transport. ”They almost couldn’t get her out of the ambulance. She was worse than when she had arrived after the self-harm,” she reveals. At home, the woman stopped eating, drinking, and taking her medication. ”On December 27, I went to leave them some medication and on my way back, one of the caregivers called me. ”My mother had attacked my father,” she narrates.

Montserrat’s father has cognitive impairment and requires assistance to get out of bed. ”When I arrived, my father was on the ground with a gash on his head and my mother was next to him. The next day, she discarded the food the caregiver was preparing and took a knife out,” she adds. On December 29, Montserrat’s mother had another self-harming episode. That was when she was readmitted.

”On the 30th, they wanted to bring her home again, after a second self-harming episode. I am the first to not want to see my mother in that situation, but I have no other choice. They have suggested I place her in a facility, but my mother is a danger to herself and perhaps also to others,” she laments. ”Mental health is a pressing issue in the Canary Islands,” she asserts.

Although Montserrat’s mother does not have a precise diagnosis, as her daughter states, she is taking antidepressants. Additionally, in December she was diagnosed with a tumor in her left kidney. ”They have given her an appointment for an MRI and in four months, she will see the nephrologist. What if she deteriorates?” the Tenerife woman questions. The resident of Los Realejos insists that the health system in the Canary Islands is ”overwhelmed.”

From the University Hospital of the Canary Islands, they emphasize that although they cannot discuss the specific case, the reasons for admission and discharge are decisions made by the psychiatrist based on clinical criteria. ”There are behavioral disturbances that are not addressed upon admission,” they clarify.

Furthermore, from the hospital complex, they explain that the Psychiatry wards admit patients in the acute phase of their mental disorder for stabilization and not for a cure. ”Community Mental Health is the fundamental principle of Mental Health in Spain, managed through Mental Health Units,” they convey from the HUC.

”The first time my mother was admitted due to an outbreak, they had her in an emergency room hallway and even restrained her. No psychiatrist saw her, but the nurses came by to take her blood pressure or sugar,” she recollects. The 77-year-old woman has required treatment for periods of psychotic behavior, visual and auditory hallucinations, passive death thoughts, cessation of eating, drinking, medication non-compliance, and suicide attempts.

Montserrat has submitted several grievances in which she insists, as this editorial team has verified, that ”under no circumstances is there any intention of abandonment on the part of the patient’s relatives.” Both her father and mother have caregivers at home, but none of them are healthcare professionals who can manage the crises that the woman has faced.

”I hope that my mother continues to receive treatment in a hospital setting until she sufficiently improves, so that she does not exhibit behavioral disturbances and until she complies with the prescribed medication,” she asserts in the documents submitted.

The resident of Los Realejos, north of Tenerife, has met with the Common Deputy, Rafael Yanes. Montserrat conveyed to him the difficulties that her mother faces in leading a normal life. Yanes pledged to contact the Ministry of Health to seek a resolution. ”I require an accurate diagnosis so that there is effective treatment for my mother,” she emphasizes.

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