Psychiatrist resigns in the face of ministry inertia

| 11/01/2023 | 76 Comments
Cayman News Service, Dr Marc Lockhart
Dr Marc Lockhart speaks to an East End resident about the mental health facility in February 2018

(CNS): Local psychiatrist Dr Marc Lockhart has resigned in frustration as chair of the Mental Health Commission after his efforts to keep the long-awaited mental health facility project moving forward have been met with an “anaemic response”. Speaking to CNS, he said the blockage was inside the ministry as Minister Sabrina Turner, like her predecessors, was fully behind opening the centre, which is now finished, as soon as possible. But senior civil servants appear to be standing in the way.

Dr Lockhart said his concerns were not a matter of a “disgruntled individual” making complaints over infighting but a genuine exasperation as a result of the failure of government officials inside the health ministry to execute a plan for opening the facility. He said that basic but critical issues, such as how the facility will be managed and operated, who will be working in it and organising the operational budget, have not been addressed.

He said it was “heartbreaking for all of us who have been involved in this” to see the facility finished but standing empty because the bureaucrats have not even begun to do their part. He said that from the beginning, the ministry had said that it, not the Health Services Authority or any other entity, would manage the facility.

Dr Lockhart said that throughout the whole process, the commission had raised the question about how and when that would happen and suggested how it could be done, but the issue was constantly ignored. “The response is anaemic,” he said.

Innovative ideas put to the ministry to have a private sector entity manage the mental health centre and staff it under a public-private partnership were ignored and viewed with suspicion and criticism, but there is no other plan in place.

The CI$15 million project is a 54-bed residential and daycare facility consisting of cottages with two major buildings on a 50,000sqft site in East End. It is expected to provide a home for Caymanians suffering from mental health problems who are on-island and in need of residential care as well as a number of patients currently in facilities overseas.

But more than three years after the official ground-breaking, the chance of those patients moving in anytime soon seems a long way off because, Dr Lockhart said, the ministry has not even begun work on the job descriptions.

“There are no plans for staffing. There are no plans for preparing the facility to receive the patients. There are no plans for training, for hiring staff, for job descriptions,” he said. “I feel there is a lack of situational awareness from the actuality of what is happening in the community and the extent of the mental health problems we face, as well as the strategy needed to move this project forward.”

He said the Mental Health Commission had helped every step of the way, but the struggle is getting a response. The commission, he said, has written multiple times to the ministry offering to meet with them.

With suicide attempts among teens up by 72% between 2020 and 2021 and some 100 suicide attempts among young people that year, the post-COVID environment remains challenging, but there are only eleven mental health beds for the entire country at the hospital and all of them are full, Dr Lockhart said.

Ending his time on the commission, which he has chaired since 2015, was not what he wanted, Dr Lockhart said, as he will still be very much on the frontline of the mental health challenge in Cayman and would continue to treat patients. But by stepping down from the commission and raising the alarm, he hopes to end the inertia at the ministry and get things moving.

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Category: Health, Mental Health

Comments (76)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A huge let down for one of the most vulnerable group in our community. This health Minister that Wayne Panton foisted on us, like many more in the PACK is utterly clueless and unable to manage her ministry. All of them still think they are on the campaign trail instead of getting the job done that we the people are paying them so much money to do. , I expected this so I am not disappointed but I am disgusted and embarrassed with the whole lot. Most of them are not fit for purpose. What in the world was the Premier thinking?

    • Junius says:

      Good Question:

      “What in the world was the Premier thinking?”

      Suggested Answer:

      Premier was not likely thinking or, if he was, he was only thinking about getting the numbers to be Premier, which included giving the current Minister of Health a Cabinet seat.

      Not sure if this was a power move of some sort or some type of play to cement legacy.

      However, with respect to the mental health facility, those who need it don’t have what they should.

      And, as it seems, both sides of the aisle are not helping the Caymanian people and others that reside here, especially those needing mental health treatment — which is rapidly on the rise at alarming rates.

  2. Just Sayin says:

    Well, as we know the DG allowed the brilliant Jon Jon to select his Chief Officer, Nellie Pouchie . That is who the current Minister inherited.
    And we know from her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee how sharp she is .
    If she couldn’t respond to the Auditor General, no one should be surprised by this situation.

  3. Anon 1 says:

    Wait but Sabrina can open something new at Smith Road Facility every week? Priorities 🤬

  4. Anonymous says:

    very poor reflection on cig and civil service when the island’s leading psychiatrist is forced to leave his post cos he can’t deal with the ministry.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You all need to understand that it is still too far out from the next election for new things to start getting opened. Give it another year and you’ll get plenty shit opened.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kenny Rogers summed it up well in the Gambler, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away, and when to run”. In Cayman, some work environments are toxic, dysfunctional, sometimes probing the boundary of legality, and we really need to take care when attaching our name and vocational identity to doomed entities/companies, authoritarian managers/owners/controllers. I’ve had to leave 3 of them in last 30 odd years. It’s always initially scary to pull the rip cord, not knowing if the chute will deploy, but he won’t regret following his gut instincts and valuing his own principles. Professionals with his level of conviction and scruples are rare and should be prized team members.

    • Anonymous says:

      Indeed, We are extremely lucky to have a psychiatrist of the calibre of Doctor Lockhart. His work ethic, his moral principles, his willingness to work extremely hard on the board and in his practice are unequalled.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Too many chiefs. Not enough braves.

  8. Cilicia Dacosta says:

    Dr Lockhart has been one of the most helpful and compassionate people on this island when it comes to mental health issues in Cayman, so I know this was not an easy choice to step down. He has been trying for years to get something in place to help people who need this. The community needs this. My family has a close family member who has been lost to the inadequacies of an inefficient system here in Cayman. We have been helpless not knowing what will happen to our loved one who has struggled with chronic mental illness for 26 plus years. They’re a lot of families that need a place for their loved ones to go rather than shipping them to Jamaica or the US to hide them away, then returning back to Cayman and having to be placed in an environment that can’t accommodate their continued needed care. Most of the pour souls you see roaming the streets need a supportive place like this long term care program, not a jail cell which most end up for a moment then back out on the streets again. The powers at be have continued to not get their act together. Empty promises. Our family will continue to pray and take action where we can, but this facility needs to happen. Don’t want to wait another 26 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s embarrassing that successive juvenile-minded governments fart away millions a month on mostly useless vote-buying endeavours and ignore the necessary and, in many cases, wholly absent social infrastructure programs like mental health, addiction and proper drug rehabilitation, sex education/birth control, trade qualifying vocational schools/mentorship, inmate-society re-integration support, juvenile services…list goes on and on of neglected urgent needs.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How many chairman of these bodies, commissions and statutory authorities have resigned due to ministry annd pact incompetence?

    • Anonymous says:

      The civil service and statutory employees are responsible. Too many are incompetent. There is no accountability.

  10. N says:

    A deplorable situation this, though not surprising given how those responsible operate at the highest levels of CIG.

    If they will not listen to nor even respond adequately to such a professional as Dr. Lockhart what hope is there for the average person seeking assistance?

    Absolutely pathetic! Especially after the several photo-ops over the years when it was deemed politically advantageous.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is an example how rotten the entire government-led healthcare system looks like. This mental health issue is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Government makes it almost impossible to provide proper Healthcare, especially in the private sector. Roadblocks, ignorance, non-responses, nebulous and inexplicable decisions became the standard.
    And all that from public servants who are paid by us.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We are struggling and CIG is not helping. This establishment would be amazing. You are wasting our time, our effort, our concerns and our feelings. Let good people believe in our community and let them help! You r stopping them – why CIG????

  13. Anonymous says:

    Kind of weird to place a mental facility way up in the bush.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another reason why DG Manderson and several officials in the ministry of health should be fired or retired immediately. The civil service is a toxic wasteland full of inept personalities that are not answerable to anyone yet praised for their professional negligence but never made to pay the price for their expensive mistakes that will cost us all dearly. The administrative arm of government is why Cayman cannot thrive look across all the ministries would you hire any of them in a senior role?

    Thank you Dr. Lockhart for exposing the real issues that occur every day in the civil service at every level.

    • Facts says:

      I won’t comment further until I have heard from the government. never make decisions without the facts.

  15. ELVIS says:

    DR Lockhart has done the best thing possible for his own mental health to be honest. I’ve watched for 10 yrs and more how this facility was going to be a million-dollar state of the art facility, then a 500,000 ci facility then a 200,000 ci facility. then to see them sent to Northward prison. is disgusting.
    no one in government is capable of doing the right thing here and finding the correct structure and personnel to assist their own people with mental health issues.

    I would fold too

  16. TiredofthisMess says:

    It’s a shame, but everything in Govt functions like this. We delude ourselves with slogans like “World Class Civil Service”. We havent got a clue what it means. The most effective parts of Cayman are those that Government has historically left alone (eg financial services). When are we going to wake up and understand that Government is not equipped to solve big problems. The idea that the Ministry can run a facility of this sort is comical at best. Where would they get the expertise? In every developed country this sort of facility would be run privately or through a public-private partnership. These people are completely delusional!

    • Anonymous says:

      Debatably, CI Gov is not even equipped to show up for minor routine queries. eg. Point your browser to and see how long it takes to go through their cookie questionnaire and access their home landing page. Even fully-automated, the CIG has found a magical way to be incredibly slow, hang, or crash.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This PACT government is wholly ill-equipped to move forward major and necessary projects and initiatives for the country. A $15m much needed health facility is languishing. The onus is not only on the civil service, the elected arm is responsible for making sure that the projects move forward as necessary and spur the civil service to action as needed. If the civil service is not doing their job, then sound the alarm – go to the Governor if needed. When will the Premier realise the jig is up, that he cannot lead this country with the ragtag group he has forced together to form a government and call an early election?

    • Anonymous says:

      The blockage is in the senior civil servants within the Ministry that we don’t vote for and never change. Unclear why they can’t be named in media and called out when they should be if they are the heads that need to roll. We always seem to stop short at the partisan party or minister level even when it comes to senior entrenched civil service obstructionists drawing 6 figure payroll from the public. Name ‘em and better yet, task the media to seek their public comment. Hold them accountable.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’v said it before and I will say it again- the leader of the health ministry is a joke. How can there be a Minister of Health who wouldn’t know how to fix a hang nail. Don’t know, don’t know what questions to ask, don’t know how to direct and lead, don’t know anything about policy because she is void of any medical skills and understanding, Only in Cayman! Constituents who elect these inept people do not require much so all of us are feeling the brunt of it. There should be some kind of educational standard for persons who run for election.

      • Anonymous says:

        she may be self serving but at least she was a nurse at one point. Jon Jon?

        • Anonymous says:

          Which means she ‘should’ have a slight bit of knowledge of how to proceed. But she proves this a false assumption. Probably best she no longer is impersonating a competent nurse; as she is comfortable impersonating a competent Minister.

        • Anonymous says:

          She wasn’t a nurse. My understanding is that she started the inhouse practical training and dropped out after a few months.. I don’t believe that makes her a nurse.!

          • Anonymous says:

            well, she told me she was a nurse so…. 🤔 still think she’s self serving and has no foresight.

  18. Sheriff says:

    Shameful and unacceptable that CIG is responsible for the facility not being open.


      This is all about the consistent failing of Franz Manderson’s “world class civil service”. Look at the facts one is ever to blame or held accountable for failing to do their jobs and provide value for money. The Deputy Governor vigorously defends them especially at the middle management and highest levels of the civil service. Unfortunately, their collective failings will cost these islands significantly and bankrupt the country. The only thing we can be assured of are excuses and waste of precious resources including time and money that goes unchecked.

      Politicians and parties come and go every four years but the bloated and expensive civil service are the one constant in the governance model where nothing seems to change for the better and no one is help accountable by the Governor and Deputy Governor that control the civil service.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The minister may be paying lip service that she supports the facility but it’s clear this is not a priority for her. She is completely out of her depth and does not have the aptitude and know how to get this facility up and running and how to navigate the political machinations of the civil service.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What a shame that this project continues to drag on.

  21. Anonymous says:

    When you elect clowns, expect the circus to come to town. CIG is and has been completely out of it’s league to manage it’s affairs. I am not a bit surprised at this sad result.

  22. Anonymous says:

    A classic example of Cayman devolving and moving backwards in time. This situation is a travesty and the ultimate insult to someone who has been Cayman’s mental health champion and saviour since he set foot here. No wonder he resigned.

    The CIG bone heads that keep looking gift horses in the mouth need to be committed themselves to an off island Victorian style asylum as this is the least they deserve.

    Shame on you wretches for failing the most vulnerable in our society and the development of our society as a whole!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I don’t blame him for quitting. Our Civil Servants are third class not world class and this is another example of a very long list of failures. Making Cayman look so bad!

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is a deplorable state of affairs and makes us look so 3rd world. Those responsible in that ministry must surely be held to account this time. Far too much effort placed on making excuses and pointing fingers elsewhere and too little effort in making decisions and getting the job done.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Totally disgusting!!! How embarassing for the Cayman Islands!!! Seems like whoever in government is holding this up should be the first clients when it opens!

  26. Anonymous says:

    World Class Civil Service

  27. Anonymous says:

    World Class Civil Service! Hon Deputy Governor and His Excellency the Governor – any statement on this deplorable and embarrassing situation?

  28. Orrie Merren 🙏🏻🇰🇾 says:

    Sincerest thanks to Dr. Lockhart, who is one of the best people that I have been blessed to know, for his stellar efforts in tackling mental health issues in the Cayman Islands.

    I can personally attest to Dr. Lockhart being one of the most intelligent, selfless and committed doctors, who genuinely cares for his patients and wants the best for all persons in the Cayman Islands (as well as the world at large).

    It is hoped that, at the very least, these issues that are extant can be addressed satisfactorily, so that persons suffering from mental health issues can get the treatment required and professional help needed.

    God bless the Cayman Islands and, most importantly, our precious people.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Incompetence at the highest level. Shame! SHAME!! SHAME!!!

    What are you waiting on CIG?

    1. A mass explosion of mental health issues greater than they are now among the populace?

    2. Until a serious incident or incidents occur and the innocent pays?

    3. Until one of your family members loose their mental faculty? (Learn the skill of EMPATHY).

    4. Until the next government is re-elected and they too pass on it?

    Cayman needs this facility opened now! CIG do your job. Why do you have your head in the sand on mental health and the necessities that goes along with sorting this issue.

    CIG, you are failing the people of the Cayman Islands every day you prolong on opening this facility.

  30. Anonymous says:

    the national hero Derek Haines had completed several marathons in Paris, London, Spain and San Francisco to raise more than 1m to build this facility. It is a failure of the epic proportions that it is not open. Outsourcing is the only option, nothing will change otherwise. Let the experts from overseas run the facility.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Another classic case of people being given serious responsibilities and they are just not up to the task. Cayman will NEVER change.

  32. Anonymous says:

    why is anyone surprised at the shocking level of incompetence of the civil service???
    excuse the politcal incrrectness…but civil service is a social welfare work placement programme for poorly edcucated locals who are unable to get real jobs in the private sector…
    if we can’t face facts we will never find the solution.

    • Anonymous says:


    • World Class Civil Service says:

      Caymanians this is who we are. We have no emphathy for the mentally ill, incarcerated persons(who committed a crime and being punished, the majority of whom are Caymanians, and are someone’s child), our Youth and our Elderly. We are only concerned about the size of our homes, the type of car we drive, the size of indebtedness to the banking sysytem all in pursuit of happiness by means of physical assets. We have no soul. And we need to stop lying about being God Fearing People – its a lie! It it was not, we you would care and show some emphathy for each other. Or perhaps we are emotionally ill and don’t have any! For Jesus loves all the children of the world, red or yellow, black or white and Caymanians! Can we try loving each other?

  33. Anonymous says:

    “the failure of government officials inside the health ministry to execute a plan for opening the facility. He said that basic but critical issues, such as how the facility will be managed and operated, who will be working in it and organising the operational budget, have not been addressed.”

    More of the same…….classic cayman

  34. Anonymous says:

    sabrina needs take care of this…as i have a cousin that needed in care…that person has lapses…

    • Anonymous says:

      Sabrina is a huge part of the problem, she has little idea of what she’s doing and is a terrible leader, both Ministries that she’s responsible for are suffering under her and it’s showing.

      • Anonymous says:

        A duly elected fool! Expect foolish results.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’v said it before and I will say it again- the leader of the health ministry is a joke. How can there be a Minister of Health who wouldn’t know how to fix a hang nail. Don’t know, don’t know what questions to ask, don’t know how to direct and lead, don’t know anything about policy because she is void of any medical skills and understanding, Only in Cayman! Constituents who elect these inept people do not require much so all of us are feeling the brunt of it. There should be some kind of educational standard for persons who run for election.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sabrina is full of herself and in denial how well she is managing her job. She blatantly refuses to work with the private Healthcare sector, with empathic doctors who truly want to improve the health care system. If she does not open up, she will go as disgrace in the annals of government history. (well, she will be joining a big club)

    • Anonymous says:

      Sabrina is clueless. Gets advised by incompetent and self-motivated people.

  35. Anonymous says:

    senior civil servants not doing their jobs. Shocking!

  36. Anonymous says:

    What a sad, tragic and entirely avoidable and predictable outcome.

  37. Anonymous says:

    time for class action lawsuit against the incompetence of the civil service and cig.

  38. Anonymous says:

    another gloriuous day for the civil service and no-plan-pact.
    anywhere else in the world, such incompetence, would force resignations athte highets level.
    but here in wonderland….it’s just business as usual.

  39. Anonymous says:

    The policy officers in that Ministry need to be trained. However more than that they need a proper work ethic. Working with them is just short of a nightmare. They do not even pretend to care. Jennifer Ahearn is missed.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Typical! The most senior levels of CIG ‘administration” is caustic, toxic and essentially dysfunctional. Not only the civil servants but also some politicians.

    Here we go again.. another well qualified, experienced and respected professional leaves in frustration. A few months again Michael Scott Ebanks resigned from Home Affairs Ministry because of Bernie Bush’s interference.

    Morons in charge but they won’t allow well educated and dedicated people to perform their own jobs. Meanwhile, the upper echelons remain filled with inept deadwood like the DG himself, Durk Banks at PTU, Stran Bodden at T&T Ministry and many others, like whomever has bogarted the mental health facility!!

  41. Anonymous says:

    …how the facility will be managed and operated, who will be working in it and organising the operational budget, have not been addressed…

    For this to work, they MUST outsource it to those with the expertise in the filed, in other words to expats. The same for Public Transport System.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, this is the logical course of action. But the toxic distain to admit that we need expat expertise is so entrenched here that we will continue to churn the garbage that is our ministerial positions. We need help, but cannot accept reality.

    • Anonymous says:

      We need to suck it up and admit that a population of 35k Caymanians (half of CI population) simply cannot produce high level responsible and educated people to fulfill positions necessary to run this government. We NEED to source from somewhere else if we cannot get here what we need. False pride to sacrifice our all well-being for the sake of some colorful statistics that feel good on the surface but destroy our own future (even presence).
      Government needs performance standards and true transparency.

  42. Anonymous says:

    This place is a mental health timebomb, with plenty of smaller explosions having already taken place.

    Currently it’s left to police to ferry serious cases to the hospital, who will invariably leave the hospital before they’re treated effectively, as this kind of place isn’t open.

    Police get called again…

    This is ignoring all the smaller issues bubbling under too!


  43. Anonymous says:

    This unoccupied facility, decades behind schedule, still doesn’t meet the capacity requirements of today’s treatment needs. Shame on those holding this up. They should be fired.


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