At the first meeting I attended of the Crisis Intervention Team we discussed a difficulty with CMHC’s inpatient unit. That is, that they were experiencing a nursing shortage and had to limit their census to 4 clients (down from the maximum of 16). They usually have no more than 5 or 6 at a time, so that’s not a huge reduction, but it did mean that the emergency department was having to hold people longer while trying to find another facility to send them to. This is difficult as we are near the state border and the nearest hospitals are all in other states.
I was asked not to spread this around to other clients and alarm them, since there is a solution, even if it’s not a great once. So I haven’t discussed this much. However, there was recently an e-mail sent to the entire nursing staff of the hospital asking for RNs to work 2 shifts per week at CMHC for a 60-day period. This e-mail stated that inpatient was closed, and unfortunately that seems to be the case. I’m no longer seeing their meal and laundry carts in the hall, and when I wait for the elevator I can’t hear the TV that they have blaring during all waking hours.
I’ve never been very quiet about my mental illness…it comes up in conversation and I don’t have much of a filter as far as who to share with. It was still a huge leap when I hit reply to all on that e-mail and asked for the nurses to please consider helping out. I said that inpatient is a vital part of mental health care in our community. I said that they had saved my life and I hate to see that resource be unavailable for others in crisis. I probably haven’t even met half the people who received my e-mail, but I felt something had to be said. Maybe hearing from someone who has actually been there will persuade some people to volunteer.