Friday, June 8, 2012

Unit from Hell: Introduction


When I first started working at this new facility, I rotated a bit and then was assigned to the Unit from Hell.  That wasn't just my opinion.  This unit scored worse in everything:  patient fights, complaints from patients/staff/doctors/visitors, missing medications, medication errors, missing charts, missing documentation, no supplies, inaccurate census shift after shift, bug infestations, broken equipment, botched drills; and so on.

The unit manager had been out on disability for months and nobody was assigned to replace her.  The attendants used the lack of leadership and revolving door of nurses to do whatever they wanted.  I would see them hanging out on other units, smoking in the parking lot, wandering around the building- nobody could make them stay on their assignment.  If the unit was short on nurses or attendants, other staff would refuse to float to the unit because it was so bad, so the unit worked short quite often.

So administration jostled around some staff members and off I went to the Unit from Hell.  The new unit manager was a relative of a person in administration.  (One of those jobs where nobody knows what he does.)  She was hired before I was, but was a pretty junior nurse in the facility's heirarchy.  Her appointment as the unit manager upset other nurses who had more seniority, so they refused to float to the unit when we were short as a show of solidarity in the Rule of Seniority.  She was clueless about substantive issues in nursing, such as 127 being a critically low sodium level.  (Sometimes psych patients overindulge in water consumption, which lowers or dilutes the sodium level in the blood, which is dangerous because it can cause heart problems quickly.)  Her time was spent in a back room on her cell phone.  "When you become a mother, you'll understand," was her response to me if I went to retrieve her for an issue.  She would not come onto the unit or help in anyway, so I gave up on her within the first week.  She was always late, but "when you have children, you will understand why you can't get out of the house on time."

I tried.  I really did.  I lasted five months.  More to come . . .

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