New Mental Hospital Beds Coming October 24, 2013Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospital, mental illness.
Tags: Healthcare, Involuntary Committment, Mental Hospitals
Finally, things are looking up here in Washington State. Currently, we are 50th out of 50 in terms of mental hospital beds per capita for the State. Two new mental hospitals are scheduled to be online within the next few years. A 68 bed facility at Fairfax Hospital, where I was involuntarily committed, broke ground in May of this year. A 75 bed mental hospital, complete with a 25 bed facility for children, is seeking approval for a location in Smokey Point near Marysville in Snohomish County. Currently, Swedish Hospital in Edmonds, with 23 beds, is the only mental hospital facility in the 733,000 person county. And it doesn’t handle children.
Bringing these two hospitals online should help reduce or end the practice of “boarding”. “Boarding” is the act of keeping people housed in regular hospitals while waiting for a bed in a mental hospital to open up. This is common in King and Snohomish County because there are too few beds. In King County right now, two thirds of all detentions for involuntary commitment end up being “boarded”- sometimes for days, while waiting for a hospital bed to be freed up.
I had my own experience with “boarding” when I was involuntarily committed five years ago. During my psychotic break with reality, I thought I was a mermaid named Pangaea. Life was good in the bubble universe I was in. My friends included Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and the Dalai Lama among others. Bill and Melinda provided me with all the money I needed (in my fantasy world), and everyone hung on my every word, telling me how gorgeous I was. And I had ESP. This went on for months.
Then things turned nasty. Zombies showed up, with the intent of capturing me. It was at that point that I remembered something I learned in grade school: when your environment isn’t safe, head to a police station or hospital. So I convinced my husband to drive me to a hospital by telling him I was hearing voices. Except I didn’t mean it in the traditional way, but I knew he wouldn’t understand that I had ESP. Feeling my reality dissolving around me, I wanted my husband to take me to the nearest trauma center, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but my husband chose Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland instead.
Once we arrived, my friends told me via ESP that the hospital was a trap, and I changed my mind about wanting to be there. But I had made an error in judgment by telling my unsuspecting husband that I was hearing voices in an attempt to get him to take me to the hospital. With that confession on his mind, he wasn’t about to let me return home.
Once I displayed my fins to people in the waiting room (I could feel the flap of skin between my toes, since as a mermaid I had fins) and took off my clothes in the emergency room, they locked me in a room for hours as they waited for an overworked County Designated Mental Health Professional to examine me to determine whether to involuntarily commit me. That was in the late afternoon. After her examination, she determined that I should be committed (but I didn’t know that). That’s where the “boarding” came in. She finished her evaluation at around 4 pm, deciding to commit me. But where? At that point, she started looking for a bed at a mental hospital. But there weren’t many choices, and they were all full.
Not knowing what was going on, I sat in that locked room, for hours. Finally, around midnight, they showed up with a four point restraint board and expected me to jump on and get buckled in. I refused, so they grabbed me by the throat and pinned me down and buckled me in, then came at me with a syringe and plunged it into my thigh. I passed out, coming to in a mental hospital.
With new hospital beds on the way, and with some money (thanks to a new tax that goes towards funding for mental illness) to get training for emergency room personnel, the experience I had should become a dim memory. At least that’s what I hope.