Battered robbery victim baffled by Cabinet’s claims

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Terry Viville yesterday denied being mentally disturbed as is being claimed in the latest post-Cabinet press statement issued late Wednesday.

The statement appears to be an attempt to discredit the man’s complaint that he was robbed, beaten on the head with a baseball bat, and then made to wait more than five hours at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) on each of two separate days without receiving any medical attention.

The statement out of Cabinet dated February 20th, penned by Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst, indicated that Viville “was deemed to be mentally challenged or disturbed”. It further promised that the Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, who shared that information with his Cabinet colleagues, would provide more details in Parliament.

Viville said he has no idea why the minister or Cabinet would make such a statement. When asked pointedly if he has or ever had a mental problem, he said “no”. Asked whether he was ever diagnosed with a mental problem, he again said “no”.

The 19-year-old was then questioned by OBSERVER media about whether he has been taken to or treated at a mental facility, and he said “no” to both.

He noted that when he went to complain about the robbery at the Criminal Investigations Department on February 9, the police sent him to the hospital with a medical form and he obeyed.

The man said several people were at the hospital waiting also and he spoke with them, “and so there are people who were there who know what happened to me and that I was waiting.”

He said there’s no lie in any part of his story about the attack on the night of February 8 when one of his three attackers struck him at the back of the head after taking away his knapsack, passport and chain while he was walking home along Briggins main road.

He explained that he did not go to the hospital the same night because most likely he was still frightened and in shock, as he remembers getting up some time after he had been hit, and running straight home where he decided to take pain medication and go straight to bed.

In his first interview with OBSERVER media on February 11, Viville gave specific details about what occurred the night of the robbery and his visit to MSJMC the next morning when he said he was told he had to wait because there was a serious accident with a bus and the hospital was dealing with the people who were injured.

The young man said he waited from 11 a.m. until after 7 p.m. without being called even once. Similarly, on Monday when he returned to the hospital, he said he was told to wait, and after sitting there from 11 a.m. until past 5 p.m. he left once more after no one attended to him.

Initially, after the man’s complaint was made public, the Cabinet issued a statement on February 13, saying, “Critical emergencies can sometimes cause the surgeons and nurses to divert to life-threatening cases, as was the case recently. Three emergency cases one night this past week involved patients suffering heart ailments; the immediate intervention of the E.R. Doctors meant life or death. Other patients were required to wait.”

That was the only excuse offered for Viville having to wait, but he reminded the media that he did not go to the hospital that night [of the assault] so obviously the excuse could not have applied to his case.

Last Saturday, a health official who spoke on another radio station, suggested that Viville could have gone to one of the community clinics since he claimed he did not have the financial means to go to a private doctor.

It should, however, be noted that none of the 25-plus community clinics across Antigua operate on the weekend. Further, Viville went to the hospital because that was what the police advised him to do when they gave him a medical form following his report on Saturday, February 9th.

This week, the post Cabinet press statement offered a different reason. It said while the 19-year-old’s visits to the ER were accounted for, “the young man did not respond to nurses, having left the compound”. But it did not state what time the nurses called for Viville.

The statement also quoted Health Minister Joseph as reporting that an MRI scan was done on the Dominican native, but that test found no evidence of head or neck trauma as claimed.

Last Wednesday, when Viville made his third attempt to see a doctor – accompanied this time by a police officer – he was successful. After he was treated, he provided OBSERVER media with an update, saying the scan found he had no serious head injuries, but he was given medication for the pain, swelling, dizziness and blurred vision he was experiencing as a result of the blow.

Viville said it is strange that he is being dismissed as someone mentally challenged, but his recollection of what transpired remains clear.

No evidence has been provided to the media that would cast doubt on his account. But there is evidence that Viville was right about an accident on Saturday February 9th at Darkwood involving several vehicles and resulting in a number of people being rushed to hospital that morning.

The accident occurred around the same time Viville said he went to MSJMC and was told he had to wait until some road accident victims were treated.

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