Dreams Spun from Shadows (maiafay) wrote in little_details,
Dreams Spun from Shadows

Inner workings of a Mental Hospital

I'm ready to tear out my hair over all the blocked journals, articles, and information I keep NOT getting due to the fact I'm NOT a psychiatrist, psychologist, or nurse in a mental institution. And the stuff I do get--it's out-of-date material and photos.

JSTOR has a crapload of everything I need, but no archives are open to me and I'm not paying eighty-five bucks to see an article. *grumbles*

I've even entertained the notion of admitting myself to a modern day facility just to see how they operate, but uh, someone advised me not to do that...lol (I might never get out).

Terms googled: Oh, so many.

Mental hospitals , mental hospital floor plans, interiors, Mental facilities, psychiatric jobs,  job vacancies, Mental health, then and now, head nurses, RN's, LPN's, Psychiatric aids, qualifications of psychiatric jobs, nurse life in a mental ward, psychiatric hospitals,  patient life, procedures for mental facilities, psychiatric handbook, nurse job duties, patient care inside mental hospital, state mental hospitals, state psychiatric wards, prison wards, virtual tour mental hospital, staff within a psychiatric hospital...and I could go on...

Anyway, I googled till I was blue in the face and crossing my eyes...and if I google anymore I'm going to hurt something.

What I need:

My story is set in a renovated Kirkbride building modeled after Clinton Valley Center in Pontiac Michigan (google to see pics, they are awesome; but sadly, the buildings have been demolished). My protagonist is a Psychiatric aid (puts him on the front-line of patient care), twenty something, and dating a RN who works in the same building. Things start going a little, odd supernatural wise, and I need to know procedures that staff and patients would follow.  This is going to be a manuscript I will send to an agent when it's finished, and I want to have all my facts straight.

What I have so far:

~> Kirkbride building: renovated and modernized on the inside (with some old tunnels and some remnants of the gilded age) Pics HERE!
~> Center wing for administrative purposes, other wings for patients and one wing for the severely mentally ill connected in the back.
~>Hospital houses 800 patients, not what Dr. Kirkbride envisioned (he said ideally 250 patients at a time), but it's a state mental hospital with some overcrowding.
~>Old creepy tunnel sealed back in the 50's because of a fire.
~> Adolescents are kept in a separate cottage, but still connected by a corridor.

What I KNOW:

~>I have a book on disorders, so no need to tell me about depression, suicide, etc.
~>I know the straight jackets are called five point restraints now
~>I know the hospital is their own little community, with dentists, hair stylists, social workers, cooks, security, nutritionists, and so forth.
~>I know a director is in charge of the hospital
~>I know Aids work crazy shifts
~>I know few drugs for patient restraint...but only two.
~>I know they still have a "head nurse"
~>Yes, I have the movie Girl Interrupted. It's from the 60's and doesn't help.

What I NEED to Know:

1. In the activities room, can a staff member (my character) be left alone with patients?

2. What sort of relationship do the aids have with the nurses, is there any snubbing from the RN's or are aids treated like crap?

3. I have a minor who will be admitted later in the story. She is 17 and tried killing herself. Her parents want her hair dyed back to its original color while she's in the hospital. Would they and could the staff dye her hair?
(never mind, will revise this!)

4. Would the my aid and staff intermingle with the cooks, social workers, and so forth on a daily basis?

5. Would Staff eat with patients?

6. How do the patients shower? I can't find anything on this. Is the bathing unit in their room now? What about patients who cannot bath themselves?

7. What is a typical day for a patient: wake up times, lunch, activities, etc.

8. What is a typical day for a Aid, or nurse?

9. Procedures for when a patient goes missing or escapes. Do they still call this "absconding?"

10. When a patient doesn't have insurance, is he or she automatically on medicaid? Are they treated differently?

11. Procedures for when a patients becomes unruly, what do the nurses/aids do ? What if they cannot calm patient down, when does the security become involved?

12. Is security everywhere? Do they have guard stations?

13. Nurse stations? Where are they usually located within a ward?

14. Would the wards be locked, inaccessible from the center building without a key?

15. What medical equipment would my aid carry on him at all times?

LOL, yes, lots of questions! Please help me out and prevent me from signing myself into one of these places for research! (I'm joking about that last part...)
Tags: ~psychology & psychiatry: institutions

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