During my first ten days of hospitalization, Dr. Roger Levine, the director of inpatient psychiatry, only appeared on Unit 3-6 twice. Each time he only stayed about twenty minutes, and the second time coincided with a staff baby shower.
On the eleventh day, I told a staff member that I had filed a complaint about Unit 3-6 with the NYS Commission on Quality of Care, the oversight agency. Thereafter, Levine appeared on the unit every day, sometimes staying all morning. What he did, or if it made any difference, is unknown to me.
After Mary Corbliss started harassing me, staff frequently referred to the treatment-planning meeting that had been held on Wednesday afternoon. Several days later, I caught Dr. Levine in the hall and asked him how a treatment planning meeting could be held without either the patient or the patient’s doctor being present. Levine immediately responded, “It wasn’t a treatment planning meeting—it was a staffing meeting. I have to keep my patients safe.” It was a treatment planning meeting: out of it came a new treatment plan.
Levine walked away from me down the hall. I followed in my wheelchair. When I reached my room, I saw that my CPAP had been taken away for the umpteenth time. I wheeled down to the nursing station and challenged Levine about it. He said, “Well, you can’t have it if you are suicidal. Are you?”
“No,” I said crisply.
“Well, all right then,” he said, and my CPAP was returned.
A psychiatrist who had not spent eight minutes with me in a quarter of a century stood in a semi-public place, asked one question, and decided I was not a danger to myself. What was the nature of his professional evaluation of the woman whom he sent out on pass from another hospital?
She left the hospital, went directly to the mall and jumped to her death.
One morning, as I am wheeling down the hall, I see Dr. Levine sitting in the dark on the bed of a female patient. Medical doctors stopped sitting on patient’s beds a quarter of a century ago. Psychiatrists have never sat on patient’s beds—it is too open to misinterpretation as to the doctor’s intent. Unless, of course, you want the patient to misinterpret your intentions.
If you are a depressed, fat, middle-aged woman and your doctor sits on your bed, leaning toward you intimately, wouldn’t you feel better? I would.
Psychiatry is an undisciplined sport. If a woman says she feels better, then she is better: her psychiatrist’s treatment must have made her so. There are no lab tests to confirm that a patient’s depression is down by 42%.
When Levine evaluated the mental status of the woman who jumped to her death, was he sitting on her bed?