Monday, December 26, 2005

Part 2: Excellent Care

(See 12/24 entry for Part 1)

As mentioned before, there were two surveys in the final day's paperwork. The first was brief and it was about my mood and thoughts in general. It was one of those fill-in-the-circle-with-a-No. 2-pencil thingies. I hate those, don't you? Anyway, this was a duplicate of the one they gave me to fill out on the first day. This way, they could compare the answers in the admission-day survey to the answers in the discharge-day survey. Unfortunately, I was too depressed to fill out the one on admission day.

The second was a satisfaction survey. How happy was I with the staff? Answer: Very! So much so that I had trouble answering one question: If I had to choose just one person that I thought was best overall, who would that be? So many people came to mind that I realized there was no way to choose one over another, and that's how I finally answered the question.

I don't recall ever having such a positive overall experience in a psychiatric hospital. I wish I could tell you the name of the hospital and the names of the staff! The care was excellent! The nurses, counselors, and aides were all, each and every one, caring, kind, loving, and competent.

You could tell they went out of their way to treat you with respect. This isn't true in some hospitals, where the treatment philosophy resembles One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. No, there were no Nurse Ratchets here. Nor were there lines -- remember the movie's depiction of medication times? They had the patients all line up to take their meds while some insipid elevator music, meant to be soothing, played in the background. Here, the nurses brought the meds to you. Not only that, they made sure to read your wristband every single time, and they went over each medication with you, comparing each capsule or tablet with a printout they carried with them. This gives both you and the nurse peace of mind. There were likewise no lines to stand in to get your vital signs taken. Once again, they wheeled the little blood-pressure and pulse-taker thingy to you each morning, along with a thermometer and a smile.

Each day started out with your nurse coming in to your room with a cheerful "Good morning!" whereupon she would open the drapes and ask you how you slept. Now, some people might have been irritated by that, but I wasn't because I've seen the opposite extreme: a brusque "Time to get up!" as someone rushed past the doorway.

Another lovely touch was being able to have a leisurely meal. No lining up to go to a cafeteria and rushing through the meal so another group could come in and eat. Here, the meals were brought to us in a dining room and we had lots of time to eat and visit. This is great for the digestion and morale. They even handed us our individual trays. The meals were selected from a menu the day before, just like in a regular hospital.

And you know what? Shouldn't all of this be "just like in a regular hospital?" This is an important point. Why? Because mental illness is just like a regular illness. And mental patients should be treated with the same respect and lovingkindness regular patients demand and get.

Oh, and above-average, excellent care, goes a long way toward healing, too.

To be continued...