An autopsy will determine the cause of death of Lateefa George, a 27-year-old who mysteriously died while under the care of staff at the Clarevue Psychiatric Unit last week. Lateefa reportedly passed away sometime between Monday 30th October and the morning of Tuesday 31st October.
Her mother Norma George recounted her last moments with her daughter, saying she went to visit Lateefa at Clarevue last Monday and left the facility around 3 pm. “When I saw the child, she was lifeless. She wasn’t laying down straight on the bed – she was slanting on the bed with a pillow behind her back and her two hands stretched on her side,” Norma George tearfully recalled. She desperately tried to get a response from her daughter, but Lateefa remained unresponsive.
A nurse who was in the room also tried to wake her. “I said to the nurse, what alu do to my child, alu gave her a shot – and she said yes,” Norma recalled.
Lateefa had been struggling with bipolar depression since the age of 19 and had complained of feeling mentally unwell. She decided to seek help and checked herself into the Clarevue Psychiatric Unit on September 4th, 2023. Her mother said the child had been in and out of the facility but was not getting any better and so they decided to admit Lateefa with the mother’s written request.
Norma strongly believes that her daughter passed away at psychiatric hospital that very Monday. So, when she arrived at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre on Tuesday and received news of her daughters passing, she told Clarevue staff at the hospital “I just shout and I say I doe care who alu fire, [because] I’m telling alu I saw my child and she was dead already …they never said one word.”
According to Norma, the Criminal Investigations Department (C.I.D) of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda has initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death.
In response to the incident, Ena Dalso-Henry, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, stated that the ministry became officially aware of Lateefa’s death through media reports over the weekend. She visited the hospital on Monday morning and spoke with the medical superintendents and the hospital’s matron. However, she was unable to provide further details, as the case is currently a coroner’s case to determine the cause and manner of death.
Members of Norma’s family have arrived in Antigua from the neighbouring island of Dominica to provide support. They have since retained the services of an attorney to represent them. Lateefa was the only child of her parents.
Matron at Clarevue, Juliet De La Bastine, was approached for a statement last weekend after news broke but declined to comment on the matter. She did express her sorrow, saying that she was “saddened” by Lateefa’s death. She also shared that she was not at work at the time of Lateefa’s passing; she was on leave attending a family funeral.
N.B changes have been made to this article to reflect the time of admission. Initially IPB wrote that Lateefa George was admitted the Thursday before she died. However a correction has been made to indicate that Lateefa was admitted to the Clarevue Psychiatric Unit on September 4th, 2023, almost two months before her passing.