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Vagrants chased from St Ann's Hospital

By KHRYSTAL RAWLINS

The St Annís Hospital yesterday refused to accept 36 vagrants as patients, saying there was no room and not enough staff to handle the large number of persons at the institution.

The vagrants had been ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation by a Port-of-Spain magistrate on Thursday.

According to an official at the hospital, the facility currently has 900 patients, although it was only designed to accommodate 800.

"There is also a shortage of psychiatric nurses. The only way we can accept anyone is to wait until the Arima rehabilitation programme comes to an end at the end of the month. When this happens, patients from Ward 15 would be transferred and only then can the homeless people be assessed. Ward 15, however, can accommodate only 20 patients," said the St Annís official.

The 36 vagrants who appeared in court on Thursday spent the night at the Central Police Station (CPS) on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.

The vagrants were taken to the St Annís Hospital yesterday at about 9 am, but were refused entry when they arrived. The two prison vans used to transport the vagrants to St Annís returned to the station shortly before noon yesterday, where there was also no room to house them.

While they waited in the prison vans to be taken someplace, a number of homeless persons began protesting and begging for their freedom.

"If it donít have anywhere to put us, send us back in the streets. It looking like it donít have anywhere else to go," said one vagrant. Some were heard mumbling other strange things, while there were those who begged to be fed.

On instructions from senior officers at the police station, the vagrants were then taken back to the Port-of-Spain Magistratesí Court where they were put in the prisonersí cell on the ground floor of the building.

On return, the vagrants were sprayed with disinfectant by court and process police officers on duty, who were again forced to deal with the stench of the vagrants.

Up to press time, personnel at the court confirmed that the vagrants were going to be taken back to CPS where they were expected to stay over the weekend. Minister of Social Development, Anthony Roberts, was approached after the adjournment of the House of Representatives yesterday, but said he does not have a report on what was taking place with the homeless persons who were picked up off the street. He also said he did not know if a report went to his office in his absence.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/stories.php?article_id=31772

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