A Most Dangerous Place to Work

I see the journey, the path I have taken like the wake of a great ship.

As I have been writing this blog for a while now my general format is to now say something about the vision loss or the challenges I face. Honestly though it has not been a very good week. I ride this life adjustment like a carnival ride, first I am up, then down then I am spun all around. I have good days and I have bad days. I have been swimming every other day for a few months. I swim because it helps relieve the boredom, gives me something to do. I took two days off and swam Saturday instead of Friday and that was the first time all week I actually spoke to another human being. It just takes a toll after awhile. I am getting used to people telling me that they will come get me for a happy hour, or for lunch or to stop by. I know people are just being nice and I rarely actually think that they might follow through. It is always out of the way or an inconvenience to come and pick someone up and then to have to watch out for that person. I know it is a huge burden. I try and not get my hopes up but I always do and I almost always cry when they back out or never follow up.  I would like to say it does not hurt and I try so hard to take the high road and respond to take the burden away from them by saying no worries, or hey life happens and smile and go on. Down deep though it hurts and after a while I just don’t think I can handle any more rejection. And so its been a bad week or maybe its just been a bad life. Remember the magnifying glass, I am aware of it at all times.

Inevitably things caught up with the Mental Health industry for all the insurance abuses. Every one from cooks to administrators knew what was going on. For a while my hospital had me filling out billing slips for any groups that I ran and then required me to run so many hours of groups. They all had to be co-signed by a Master’s level therapist. I knew a psychiatrist that billed twenty hours a day despite working barely seven. Psychiatrists loved to sign on with nursing homes and then prescribe whatever medications the staff wanted and got paid a nice fee. Eventually the system was going to crash and it did hard. The hospital went from being full to barely having any patients at all.  They had to do something to fill the space. They moved the adults to the small unit and the adolescents to the big unit. Finding adolescents was always easy if you wanted to make some sacrifices.  So the hospital made a deal with a company named Century who acted as a middleman for hard to place kids, most of them wards of the states.  The staff of course were told it would be a good thing. Of course we were.

The first admitted was a fourteen year old girl from Indiana. She did not look like much but during the admission process she told the nurse to “suck my cunt” and walked away. She might be the most vulgar human being I ever met.  From that point on we admitted anywhere from three to five kids a day. We admitted four kids from Little Rock all from different gangs and suddenly we had fights every day multiple times a day. Then we admitted a skinhead, a big kids who was willing to take on all comers. People got hurt, kids, staff. We were badly understaffed and used a lot of temps. A lot of these temps walked away during the shift and refused to come back. I worked the three to eleven shift so there was not a lot of staff around anyway. We spent most every night going back and forth between the residential unit and the adolescent unit because there would be trouble at both places. Eventually the two staffs met and agreed they would have to take care of their own units because it was just too dangerous. I met my ex-wife there. She worked in Utilization Review right outside the adolescent unit. She could usually give me a heads up if it was a good day or bad day. I usually paused there before entering. I was never sure if I would walk out at the end of the shift and it is the only place I ever worked that I was afraid of or thought too dangerous.

The staff went through a lot of changes. We hired a lot and many quit. We had this awesome girl who worked there that broke down seriously one night because she was so scared and had already been injured once before. We did get control, leaders among the staff stepped up with ideas that we implemented. Yes I was the leader of the three to eleven shift. It was my idea not to keep going back and forth to the residential unit to help them.  It was also my idea to make quicker decisions to get problem kids in seclusion quicker. We also started pressing charges when kids assaulted us and when we had police lead away a few problem kids who were usually crying and begging to stay the remaining kids started to realize there were a lot worse places to be, Things just started to get better and a new CEO helped a lot because the first thing he did was get rid of the director of nursing who had made the deal with Century in the first place.  I don’t know why I didn’t get hurt/ I did have a kid punch me but it did not hurt and he became the first kid removed from the unit, bawling and begging me not to do it. I did eventually get hurt, but it was plying basketball with the kids long after we got control of the unit. Ultimately this injury allowed me to have a lot of conversations with the CEO who liked me when I was working light duty on the phone up front. You can always depend on change.


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