Kelvin Forrest, a person with Down syndrome, was found outside Byron Central Hospital suffering from hypothermia after wandering outside through an unlocked door at the hospital in the early hours of Saturday, 28 July, an anonymous source has told Echonetdaily. It is understood that Mr Forrest was discovered at 5am by a security guard and later died as a result of the hypothermia.
Echonetdalily’s source said Mr Forrest had been ‘specialled’ – meaning he was supposed to have one-on-one care – a few days prior to the incident.
Echonetdaily understands that the door Mr Forrest used to exit the hospital should have been locked for security purposes. According to the anonymous information supplied to Echonetdaily the door had been left unlocked for another long-term patient who was believed to have a range of complex mental health issues.
However, Wayne Jones, chief executive of Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) has since contacted Echonetdaily confirming that ‘There were no mental health patients in the hospital’s general inpatient unit at the time of this tragic incident.’
It is important to note that Mr Forrest ‘had not ever been a patient of the sub-acute mental health unit at Byron Central Hospital’ said Mr Jones.
A coronial inquest is currently underway with a police report due to be lodged by September 28.
Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) didn’t answer Echonetdaily’s questions regarding how staff failed to notice that Mr Forrest was missing and whether the hospital has enough staff to manage the number and types of patients that are presenting at the hospital.
Wayne Jones, chief executive, NNSWLHD told Echonetdaily, ‘We extend our deepest sympathies following the tragic death of a patient at Byron Central Hospital.
‘NNSWLHD has been in constant contact with the patient’s family, including providing open disclosure regarding the circumstances of the death.
‘This case has been referred to the NSW Coroner, and an internal investigation is also underway. Further details cannot be provided at this time.
‘NNSWLHD is providing ongoing support to staff involved in the patient’s care, understanding that any patient death is a distressing event.
‘All staff have a responsibility to maintain the privacy of their patients, including not discussing patient information and treatment outside their workplace.
‘Byron Central Hospital is staffed according to industrial award requirements.’