I have spent the past twelve days in St. Joseph’s Hospital on inpatient psychiatry (Unit 3-6) with Dr. Roger Levine attending. I am now going to file complaints with the New York State Dept. of Health, NYS Office of Mental Health, NYS Commission on Quality of Care, the NYS DOH Office of Professional Medical Conduct, and St. Joseph’s Hospital for grossly substandard “care.” I invite you along on the ride: this is your “mental health” system at work. You have a responsibility to know how your tax money is being spent.
For starters, the ride may be bumpy. I was of sound mind when I was admitted to 3-6; by the time of discharge this afternoon, my mental faculties had broken down severely. The psychologist, whom I have been seeing for a year or so, came to visit me in the hospital. After hearing what was being done to me, she wept.
The story will come in fits and starts and odd lumps as my severely insulted psyche tries to pull itself together and get organized. Let’s start with something simple: housekeeping.
When I was on medical units at St. Joseph’s Hospital, the housecleaning ladies would come in every day to clean the floors and bathroom and do such other tasks as presented themselves. I was on Unit 3-6, inpatient psychiatry, for twelve days, variously occupying three rooms. I was bedridden 95% of the time so I definitely knew what was and was not happening in my room: it was not being cleaned.
- A nurse picked a kernel of corn off my shirt and tossed it in the bathroom sink. Three days later it still was there.
- I vomited on the floor. Two days later the table beside my bed was moved and there was vomit underneath it.
- Dirty washcloths accumulated on the bathroom floor for three days.
The usual everyday housekeeper was a short, fat, black woman. On Friday (only) she was replaced by a tall, white woman with short brown hair. When the tall woman swept my bedroom floor, she pulled out dust bunnies, coins and other stuff consistent with a floor that had not been swept in a week.
The regular housekeeper on 3-6 is lazy and not performing her job. Her supervisor is not adequately doing follow-up inspections.
Every patient in the hospital is banded with a plastic identification bracelet that includes a bar code. The bar code is to be scanned at bedside whenever the staff does finger-sticks, draws blood, administers medication, amputates a leg, or whatever. It is done to make sure they have the right patient.
On 3-6, some nurses don’t do it. They scan the chart instead of the patient. One nurse said, “Oh, I know who you are.” Yes, but does she really know whose chart she scanned? There are thirty patients; she grabbed one chart out of the thirty identical ones on file. When she checked my blood sugar, it went from her bedside gizmo directly into the computer. What if she just recorded my 299 blood sugar onto another patient’s chart? What if they spring into action and give the other patient a large dose of insulin?
The 3-6 nurses who violate policy and scan charts instead of patients are not secretive about it; they are very casual and open. Clearly, they believe that if their higher-ups hear about it, they will not be reprimanded or punished. What does that say about how the 3-6 nursing administration is failing to monitor and discipline the nursing staff?
For 14 hours each day, I am allowed to have nothing but water.
Supper is served at 6:00 p.m.
At 8:00 p.m. they serve snacks, however I am not allowed to have any. The reason given is “You have high blood sugar.” They have not checked it, nor do they offer a no-sugar-added snack.
At 6:00 a.m. I wake up and ask for juice. The nurses refuse to let me have any, again stating that my blood sugar is too high. Again, they have not checked it.
Around 8:00 a.m. they check my blood sugar and it is, for example, 299. If my blood sugar is 299 after a 14-hour fast, who in their right mind thinks that restricting intake is going to significantly lower my sugar? Following their behavior, one would expect that their intent is to deprive me of all food and drink.
And they get upset when I call them morons.
Yesterday Dr. Edwards, my primary care physician, said to me, “But you’re on a regular diet!” When a doctor orders a regular diet for a patient it means that the patient is authorized to make her own choices of food and drink, including snacks and juice. So Dr. Edwards goes to check my chart and comes back to report that Dr. Roger Levine has ordered no juice. That is logically inconsistent with a regular diet, and Levine is a psychiatrist, not a competent total-care physician. Levine is also an asshole, but we’ll get back to that later. Pay real close attention every time you see the name Levine.
So here’s the situation: through education, responsibility and discipline, I kept my diabetes under good control for about eight years. Then something really, really weird and unexpected happened: I got older. And with age, my pancreas started to fail and produce less insulin. So my doctor and I struggled with insulin injections but after a few months I had such bad side effects that I no longer could take insulin. (Consequent to lithium poisoning, I have “immune dysfunction, type unknown,” which includes hypersensitivity to all medications.)
So two weeks ago I went to my doctor with a glucose level of 458 and he said, “There’s nothing more that can be done.”
I now am on a long, slow slide into diabetic hell and there’s nothing that can be done about it—except maybe offer compassionate care, as in Death by Chocolate. Nevertheless, nurses on 3-6, working under Roger Levine, literally pull juice and snacks out of my hands.
The concept of “compassion” has yet to be introduced on inpatient psychiatry.