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Inpatient Psychiatric Admissions: Let’s hit the unit.

Yesterday, we began a series on the much-misunderstood inpatient psychiatric experience. Well, let’s dive back in, in this second of a now three-part series.

This is important information, not only for each of us, but for family members and friends. Any of us may face an inpatient admission, and it’s crucial to establish a sense of realism, comfort, and security.

We ended yesterday’s piece right when the admission paperwork was presented and, perhaps, signed. Here’s a link to the article.

Well, whether you’re a voluntary or involuntary admission, it’s time to head to your unit. By the way, most facilities allow an adult to accompany you.

Most psychiatric hospitals have several units for adult care. Typically, there’s a special intensity unit. Patients on this unit may be actively psychotic, manic, suicidal, or aggressive; and require a higher degree of management.

And there’s a unit for less acute cases, which is where most folks are admitted.

Finally, most facilities have a geriatric unit, which is also used to care for adults of any age requiring specific medical accommodations.

So you enter the unit, after your escort unlocks the front door (totally freaking you out), and you’ve arrived. You’re now in the hands of a nurse and a behavioral health counselor. The counselor’s responsibility is to assist in the management of what’s referred to as the milieu – the environment and spirit of the unit.

The first order of biz is to turn over everything you brought with you to a staff member. It’s inventoried and secured. And, yes, that includes your cell phone. You’ll have access to these things should you need something. But the only thing you’ll be using your cell phone for is a few phone numbers.

Next you’ll have to remove your clothing, typically down to your underwear. For my money, this is the most difficult part of the experience. But it’s done privately by a same sex staff member.

They’re looking for paraphernalia and distinguishing marks – tattoos, etc. I have never heard of a cavity search being performed. Now, I’ve seen cases where a self-injurer carried a few razor blades, shall we say, on board. Regardless, don’t worry about invasive searches.

Then, usually in a gown, you’ll sit down with a nurse, have your vitals taken, and participate in a medical assessment with a few psych questions tossed in.

When that’s completed, you’ll likely be given a tour of the unit and taken to your room. And then you can shower-up and get dressed, if you’d like.

But there are a few conditions. Belts, laces, and jewelry are a no-no. And so are many personal care products and cosmetics. Understand – it isn’t all a matter of not trusting you. Obviously, others may somehow gain access to your things; or there may be allergy considerations.

Just a few more things and we’ll tie a bow on today’s piece. Any unit I’ve ever worked on was coed. And if either a male or female patient is known to be at all sexually aggressive, they’ll have what’s known as a one-to-one sitter.

You will have a roommate. And, typically, each room has its own bathroom with a shower.

Finally, there are quiet rooms on each unit; which are primarily used when a patient has become difficult to manage. And, yes, restraints and drugs may be on the menu. I’ve also had patients ask if they can chill for a while in a quiet room in the midst of the hub-bub of a busy unit.

Well, let’s call it an article, okay? Come on back tomorrow and we’ll wrap-up the series with details on just what happens throughout the day on a psychiatric unit.

In the meantime, why not share a comment (or two)?