The reality of the situation is that mental healthcare has deteriorated into mere warehousing for people with ideas about hurting themselves or others. And believe me when I tell you this: I have inadvertently become an expert in matters of mental healthcare. Oddly enough this isn't even my field. Although I find psychology fascinating, I come by this knowledge via my wife, whose main diagnosis is Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder).
One cannot get admitted to a mental facility unless there is suicidal ideation with a definite plan. Otherwise the insurance will not pre-certify the inpatient stay (assuming, of course, there is insurance). In the absence of insurance, the locality can provide coverage for the stay via Medicaid for the most part.
It's been about ten years since my wife saw the inside of a facility. We both hoped that phase was long over. Unfortunately it became necessary again recently. The experience is even more alarming this time out.
Yes, there is bound to be change in ten years - one would hope for the better. But not this time. The intake was flawless, I have to give them that. After that, things seemed to head downhill fairly rapidly, with small upward bumps.
There are a few places in the U.S. with Dissociative Disorders Units (DDUs) but none of them are closer than a few hours and insurance is a little picky about this. As a result, it was back to the place from ten years ago.
As the HMOs were pounding the final nails into mental healthcare, the facilities became warehouses for the patients. They were kept until they no longer felt like doing harm to themselves or others. I am not making this up. And heaven help the person who gets admitted on a Friday, as nothing happens on the weekends. Nothing.
The intake people were nice enough to give me the name of the unit and information about visiting. I felt good about this right up until I showed up for visiting hours. Each of the signs for the unit said something different, some directly contradicting each other. Every door I went through led me to a unit that did not have my wife. One person told me she wasn't on the unit and turned away. Fortunately a nice person made a call to find out where I had to go.
As it turned out, she wasn't on the unit I was told about. At one point I swore that the next time I heard the word no, I would wind up being involuntarily committed. Because of the incorrect unit and touring the entire campus, total visiting time was about thirty minutes.
While I do not expect every hospital to have a Dissociative Disorders Unit, my wife didn't expect to be the only clean person on a drug addiction unit. Here's a fascinating little tidbit: drug and alcohol addiction seems to qualify for longer stays than most other disorders, mostly without insurance. There does not appear to be a requirement for suicidal ideation either.
Here are a few small notes and issues:
- patient hears staff mocking the contents of wallet and pocketbook
- Most staff with MD after their name are arrogant, rude, and dismissive
- Psychiatrist says the meds that have been working for years are wrong and some can't possibly work. Tries to change to one med that causes zombification.
- Psychiatrist, upon hearing diagnosis, asks if any of the alters are going to be a problem
- personal effects dropped off at 8am didn't appear till dinner
- some patients will wait days to see a social worker
- family and friends are having difficulty locating the patients
Don't get me wrong - many of the people who are not doctors were quite polite, helpful, and informative. I even observed a staff member talking to patients like actual humans. But all of the above does not engender a warm feeling about this institution and the competence of its arrogant professionals. Will they keep the majority of patients from committing harm? Probably. Will much more happen? Probably not.
I will suggest one small improvement to the system: mandate weekend work, so the facility can do some good, as opposed to warehousing.
I truly hope to not type another word about this.
But alas, here I am.
I went to visit my wife today. We discovered the reason why she was on the detox ward: because the shrink refused to prescribe her pain meds for her and knew she was going to go into detox.
Apparently this crowd took the hypocritical oath instead.
For anyone keeping score, here we are: a patient comes to the hospital, the shrink refuses to prescribe meds that the patient has taken for years and throws her into detox from her legitimately prescribed medication. At no point does anybody check with the prescribing physicians.
On top of this, the patient has gotten absolutely no help for her actual admitting issue. Literally nothing. She was more than welcome to go to the AA meetings, though. The place was a warehouse. There was no therapy or much of anything else happening. The most exciting moments of the day for the patients were the smoke breaks. Even the non-smokers went because it was something to do. This was not a healthy or healing environment.
I checked in with my wife to make sure she was ok (she was). We asked again for pain meds and got the same runaround. We signed her out and I'm typing this from my favorite chair. My wife, meanwhile, is resting and dealing with all the symptoms of detox caused by the hospital.
I am not a lawyer but this smells like the definition of malpractice to me. Someone needs to put this hospital and its insecure shrinks in line for the good of the patients. The constant refrain was that the unit staff was great but the doctors were from hell.
We have long semi-joked that hospitals are the greatest deterrents against going into the hospital. This really drove the point home.