A Day On The Inpatient Unit

I worked at the Mental Health Inpatient Unit for a number of years and during that time many things happened both funny and serious, even dangerous. My usual shift was from 3:30pm to Midnight! Ours was the busiest shift for admitting patients, mostly patients brought in by the police, who wrote a 5150, which was a 72 hour Hold on a patient, who then could be held, as being either a Danger to himself or Others or Gravely Disabled.

I worked in a clerical position as a Ward Clerk, doing all the necessary paperwork, making announcements over the loudspeaker and taking calls. I worked closely with the Charge Nurse who as the name implies was in charge of everyone and every thing on the Unit. There were a number of Psychiatric Technicians, (PT),  which depended on the number of patients and each PT was responsible for so many patients. Also there were a number of Health Technicians (Health Techs.) again depending on the number of patients we had, but usually we had about three or four Health Techs, (HT).  They did just about everything from helping a patient to and from the bathroom to helping the PT’s put a patient in seclusion. Sometimes in restraints, sometimes not. There were two Psychiatrists on the Unit during the day shift which was 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and one doctor on the evening shift, 3:30 to midnight. We had beds for 34 patients with sometimes an overflow of up to 40 patients. Then for the NOX shift which was from 11:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., a doctor was on call. Also, the Crisis Team was in the building next to the Mental Health Inpatient Unit building. The Crisis Team interviewed anyone coming in on their own and not with the police: They were also available to the staff on the Unit whenever an emergency arose.

So, as you can see the Unit was a very serious place for everyone involved, workers, patients, families and doctors. But as often happens even in emergency or crisis situations, sometime funny things do happen and you have to laugh if only to relieve the tension which usually abounded in such places.

To be continued.

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