We are deep in the bowels of winter, cold, stormy, piles of snow, no sunshine. No place to walk. No place to park the car at work.
And sick folk. Soooooooo many sick folk.
My ER, nay, the entire hospital, has been bursting at the seams for weeks on end. Not with flu, although there is plenty of cough, cold, sore throat, etc. It's chest pain and abdominal pain and COPD. Plus falls, elderly gone to ground humans who have apparently been targeted by Gravity as easy marks.
The waiting room has looked like Calcutta, without Mother Theresa, for days on end.
We have had three times the usual number of psych patients. These aren't in-and-out depressions or quick psych admits; they are psychotic or suicidal. They are lining our hallways. Some wait a week, two weeks, almost three weeks for a commitment bed. They are acting out and who can blame them, it is not a therapeutic environment and their soul-sucking behaviors not only distract us from legit sick people, they make it dangerous for the staff. The screaming, cursing, button pushing, stretcher banging, shit throwing behaviors….I can't concentrate. The patient load has increased, management could care less that the work assignment is sometimes doubled because "they aren't much care". The fuck? They need meds, make endless demands, and with each request the patient sitters pass it along to the nurse. I am concerned about making mistakes because of the distraction. They have added a part time psych nurse practitioner during the day, but are not staffing the night shift with social workers at least 3 nights per week. If you come in suicidal at 5 PM, and there are a couple of people ahead of you for evaluation, forget it. You will be medically cleared by 7, but after 10 they won't see anyone else and YOU will have a cozy bed in the hallway for the night listening to the cacophony.
I get that there is an opioid crises, but we are seeing one or two heroin overdoses a day, about 5 drunks, a sprinkling of people looking for detox, and 9 or 10 depressed patients with suicidal thoughts at minimum. Add in a couple of actual psychos off their meds and arriving with cops and commitment papers and we are well over the edge. I am not a psych nurse, I don't have the temperament, I don't enjoy it, I'm not trained for it.
I can't wait for retirement and it is still a few years away.
This is winter. It's here and it's not going away.