Saturday, September 4, 2010

Introducing.....College Hospital

For my mental health rotation I was placed at College Hospital in Cerritos. It is an all psychiatric care facility that I will visit every Wednesday. Anxious is a pretty good way to describe how I feel about this clinical setting for the next 8 weeks. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Mental Health altogether is not my forte. I am all about talking with patients in regards to their feelings or how they are coping. But, to be in an environment like this changes that and takes, throws me....out of my comfort zone. That's an understatement. 

2. In my LVN program, this was my worst expereince so I am already going into the class/clinical with a bad image in my mind. Not only was the lecture a struggle for me but clinical was than too. I made the mistake of befriending a young man at La Casa. I sat and listened to him talk as he skipped between the five different "realities" he lived in. When I returned to the facility in the subsequent days, he didn't want me to talk to anyone else. And now, I was a part of these "stories" in "his worlds". He wanted us to hangout when he was released from his hold.  Creepy? Yes. All I could think of was that he know knew my name from my name badge and wanted me in his world, what would happen if he was discharge?! 

3. The training. Last Wednesday we had orientation and it was all going swell until the last hour. Another instructor who actually works at the site came in to meet with us. She began showing us how to sit with the patients so they can't punch us or choke us. Sweet. Than how to yell for help should we be in a situation that needed it. Hmmm, great. We moved on to discuss how you never turn your back on who you are talking to, for obvious reasons, and of course, you never touch them. One of her last comments was that if you are in a conversation with a patient and they all of a sudden have a blank stare on their face, get out of there. Why? Because in their mind they are hearing voices telling them that, for example, you killed their mom so no they need to kill you. Or, they are hallucinating that someone is standing behind us telling them that we are the FBI coming to get them so they need to take us out. Oh man. 

4. We are put into groups of two for each unit....a buddy system. I am paired with Brooke who is super sweet and we are alot alike. She is blonde and tall....we are the only ones in our group....and very soft spoken. We look like easy targets. Really, two for the price of one. While we were excited to be together, we are both pretty apprensive about going on the floor. The instructor also placed the only male in our group with us. Thank you! Rommel is a great guy, a friend from last terms clinical, and I would trust him with my life...seriously. I mean,just knowing that he will be arm's lengths away at all times is comforting. He already informed us that he "has our backs". Thanks!

5. This is a very high aquity facility. Meaning, these people are very dangerous. Most have come in from police drop offs from off the street. In a few of the units we will be in, each patient in there is considered to be highly suicidal and highly homicidal. Which means, I will never let my guard down. I will never trust just can't. I will never think that they are "just fine" because that is when something will happen.

On top of all that I have a phenomenal instructor. She is a breath of fresh air! Prof. Noonan works for the Irvine Unified School district now with children who need a little extra attention and help but she also teaches mental health at my school. She is about 70 ...may a few years older....and as cute as a button. 5'2....white hair....and a smile that immediately sends out comfort, I liked her from the start. She remind me of that sweet little grandma in the movies. I half expected her to bring us homemade cookies and than tuck us in bed with a story. She is a spitfire as well though. She would say something "inappropriate" during orientation and than put her little hand over her mouth and giggle like a school girl. We all agreed that because of her we are going to have a great clinical this term! 

Next Wednesday will be our first day on the floor. Pray it goes well for all of us! I can't imagine what these patients are going through. In fact, I can't even imagine what a mental illness would be like. In that sense, my heart hurts for them and I want to help them in any way I can. As long as myself and my classmates stay safe. My biggest challenge will be caring too much. I am that nurse that will sit down at the bedside, hold the patient's hand, stroke their hair, and just listen. While the listening aspect will be beneficial in this term, the rest won't and that will be a challenge and a great learning experience for me to switch gears a bit. 

Alright mental health....I'm ready for you...I think?


  1. Emma,
    I found your post through my gmail "google alerts" for (among many) College Hospital Cerritos. I am extremely interested in the quality of care @ this facility for two reasons. I've considered working there (despite/because) of its negative reputation and I have reason to believe that the administrators/owners of the hospital do not work above board. I may be wrong. I'll be interested in reading further comments on your blog about your experience. I hope you will not mention my name @ the hospital!

    Best wishes and good luck,

    Long Beach

  2. Lips are sealed! I did however have a GREAT first experience! I will blog about it in a bit!