Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reaction paper on workplace safety at state mental hospital

There was an article on NPR on workplace safety in a state mental hospital in California, and several of the students in this semester's class were moved to write reaction essays in response to what they learned.

In my second reflection paper, I choose to write a response to an article entitled, “At California Mental Hospitals, Fear Is Part of The Job.” The article detailed how psychiatric hospitals throughout California are known for violent acts committed by their very own patients. The article details how an employee was even killed by a patient. The article talks about the safety, or lack thereof, for the hospital’s employees.
Upon reading the article, I found it rather disturbing. While the mentally ill population is one that should be cared for, those that care for them should feel safe. Any type of job that you work for, you should feel some sense of security. However, one would argue that with some jobs, that just isn’t going to be possible. For example, people that go into law enforcement police) know that their lives are at risk each time they walk out the door. As well, those who work with the mentally ill are at a higher risk for violence. The patients who are in these sorts of environments obviously are not in the right state of mind and thus act out more. I believe that if you choose to work with this population, you must also be aware and be okay with what may happen. I want to make clear that no one should feel fear going into their place of employment, but I suppose you have to really love your job and the people you work with, in order to stay employed in this field.
Further, the 92-page plan created by the Justice Department seemed to have been successful, but at the expense of its employees! That is not acceptable. No plan enacted by the government should remain if it causes harm to the very people who are serving this group of people. While the plan may be good, it needs to offer changes so that it works for every person involved. The article stated that since the plan had been enacted, the violence in hospitals has been on the rise, perhaps due to excessive paperwork. Employees stated that they can’t spend as much time with their patients because they are busy completing paperwork. So, why not create a plan that is still effective but with limited paperwork (paperwork that is absolutely necessary)? Another point the article stated was, there were some problems with patients being neglected, substandard care, and bad record keeping. That could be a result of employees being tired of fearing for their lives. As a result, that could be there way of retaliating and having an “I don’t care” type of attitude. It is just important to make sure both parties (patients and employees) are happy.
Personally, it is not my desire to work with this group. I don’t know if I could directly relate to them nor do I think I want to risk my life. I believe that there are people who can deal with certain groups of people, but I don’t this is my group. Instead of being helpful, I would be fearful because I would never know what to expect from the patients. This article was a real eye opener for me and if I contemplated working with this group before, it has definitely proven wrong!

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