As I ran my name badge through the scanner the beep told me I was clocked in. I just did not know what was behind the three locked steel doors that was ahead of me. Unlocking and closing each one as I ventured to my unit. Another co-worker and I talked about how busy the week had been. After being off a few days she was giving me a report of what had happened. Another co-worker was attached from behind and beaten to the ground with a male patient's fist. Bruising the back of her neck, her forehead and chipping a tooth. She was taken the local hospital to be evaluated. Thankfully, she was bruised and not hurt badly.
She had been walking down the hall and the man that said he was confused asks her to show him to his room. He was not upset and showed no signs of agitation when he turned on her and began beating her quickly to the ground with her not suspecting that anything was wrong. He has a history of "huffing". It had been less than 5 days since he last huffed, which sometimes causes outburst of anger to occur.
When events like these happen, it puts everyone in the hospital on alert. Like any place – you get comfortable and let your guard down to what your surrounds are at times.
For example late one evening after a busy shift – the patients were finally in the bed. The halls were quiet and only a few of the men were still watching the 10 pm night time news. One man was pacing the hall but did not seem to be upset. He was not disturbing anyone and no one was bothering him.
After walking the halls, and checking inside each bedroom for a sleep check. I sat down to write in the records who was awake and who was asleep like we do every 15 minutes around the clock. I looked up noticing movement to my right and the man that had been quietly pacing the hall was now pulling his pants down to his knees exposing his naked butt cheeks to the three women sitting at the staffs' desk. Not only did he expose his dirty butt, but he turned and grabbed the small amount of jewels that he had and began shaking them at the staff. Shocked we sat there – before getting up to redirect his behavior.
He said, "There you fat bitches I bet you never get to see anything like that." As he turned to walk slowly down the hall, we could not hold back and giggle. We quickly agreed we were glad we have not seen anything quite like that and did not want a repeated behavior.
The male staff was on the way down the hall and shouted "Hey pull your clothes up, there are women on the hall." He kept walking without any aggressive signs, until one of the nurses went to talk to him and explain he could not do that behavior on the hall. His mood quickly changed on a dime. He reached out with the same hand he had grabbed his private area with and thumbed her nose. "Smell bitches what the fuck are you going to do about it?" The male staff was a black male who stepped up to prevent the female nurse from being hit. He got louder and said, "Awe Niger you goanna do something about it, I will beat your fucking head in."
Anytime racial slurs are made and personal threats it takes a big deep breath for the person it is being said too, to remain calm. To stay quiet and let him vent takes skill. We had two more women on the hall. One at each end, ready for directions of what they needed to do next as a team effort. The other nurse hollered over his 6'3 muscled frame for a call to the doctor to be placed.
I slowly backed up to get the pregnant patient assist to make a call to find extra help in the hospital. She quickly began dialing the phone and every number she dialed – had a busy signal. I ran to the office and grabbed the hospital wide radio communication – out of breath – I loudly spoke into the emergency system we need help NOW.
That one call can be heard on every radio in the building, including security officers. I walked quickly back to the other two staff now in a standoff. The energy on the hall was thick and it felt like no one was breathing. The other patients that had been on the hall removed themselves and went into their rooms for safety. Our goal at this point was to keep him from striking out, and he was starting to step in closer to the staff with each word he screamed. He pushed the male staff – I tapped him in the back to wait for help. We kept talking – he kept screaming and threatening to now beat the male staff down. "Come on mother-fucker you think your black ass can take me." The fight would not be a match anyone really needed to step into.
The silence in the building was deafening. It seemed like no one was responding fast enough and he wanted to fight who ever wanted to make the first move. Staff was standing in the ready position to run or fight. There is no way I would run if someone was being attacked. About the time he stepped toward the male staff and pushed him the patient assistant screamed "THEY ARE DOWN HERE." She was coming out from behind the desk pointing in our direction but looking down the other hall at the staff she could see running to help.
The feeling in the air thinned and everyone took a deep breath, because the challenge was now over and he began walking toward his room. 10 male staff walking right behind him to make sure that was the place he was headed. The doctor had ordered intramuscular medication to calm him down he sat on his bed and waited for it to arrive.
With the skills the staff used that worked this night knew – it was to our advantage to let him talk, scream, curse, insult, and spread his nasty slurs until help arrived. As a human – as a nurse it is hard to sit back and listen to people threaten and violate your personally safety. This man needs a jail cell, more than he needs a psych unit. The fear that we as nurses deal with at times like this makes you very thankful to hear the beep of the time clock when we scan our badge and no one is hurt.
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
She is a natural health expert with 24 years as a nurse she can show you holistic approach helps the entire family physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Clients enjoy getting back to the road of recovery using health alternates for them and their family
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