A suspected suicide victim’s mum has made a tearful plea to her daughter’s former carers – asking them not to fail her again.
Erica Hume was 21 when she died in an apparent self-inflicted death in the mental health ward at Palmerston North Hospital in 2014.
Nearly three years on, her mother Carey stood face to face with senior staff and urged them not to repeat their mistakes.
“Erica was treated appallingly by MidCentral when they were supposed to be caring for her.
“It will be three years on May 7, when Erica lost hope in MidCentral’s mental health service.”
* Still hard for family one year after Erica Hume’s death in Palmerston North Hospital
* Parents ‘disturbed’ as suicide attempts continue at hospital after daughter’s death
* Parental plea to speed up mental health revamp
Hume fought back tears as she spoke to committee members at a MidCentral District Health Board meeting this week.
She told them of the heartbreak at attending her other daughter’s wedding, without Erica.
“The very fact that her sister Erica was not standing next to her as maid of honour was very significant to us.”
Erica’s death, and that of fellow patient Shaun Gray, forced the hospital to undergo an overhaul of the ward and its management.
But Hume questioned if the changes would simply be a “cosmetic undertaking” or a “true commitment”.
“Please don’t disappoint us and let Erica down again.”
Hume asked how many board members had actually been into the ward and knew what conditions were like.
“Some of you around this table don’t know what happened in your DHB in 2014, how abysmal the mental health service was, how run down the service was, and how arrogant and contentious some of management were towards mental health care.
“Some will be sitting here right now and thinking ‘it wasn’t on my watch, things are different now’, or worse – you are better than your predecessors and won’t make those mistakes.”
Hume said their lack of understanding and comprehension was dangerous.
Both Carey and husband Owen Hume regularly make the long journey from their home in Bay of Plenty to attend DHB meetings in Palmerston North.
“People wonder why we still come to meetings. We come to ensure MidCentral honour their promises and commitments to transformational change.”
She said cuts and delays had effected Erica’s life and lead to her death.
Management at the time lied by omission, misreported, cut services, and system run by administrators and accountants, she said.
MidCentral committee chairwoman Diane Anderson thanked Hume for her bravery in speaking to them.
“And for reminding us what has occurred and what opportunities we still have to capture and for holding us to account.”
Board member Barbara Robson said it was time for the members to visit the ward.
Committee member Dennis Emery said he was not looking to blame anyone, but work needed to accelerate.
“I am hearing a call for help from the Hume family, three years later.
“They are still hurting and we are sitting here looking to be doing nothing. It is not good enough.”
Where to get help:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (8am to midnight) – 0800 111 757
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org