Emily was taken to a mental health facility at 2 AM, early on Monday morning. Spencer and I went home as we were told we wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone til the next day. So Monday we got in our car and made the hour and a half trek there. And so it begins.
We enter the lobby and we are told to have a seat. A phone call comes through the lobby phone. Spencer wants to try to handle things as it is “his wife” and I am trying to give him the space to do so. I can only listen for so long and then I have to insist on him giving me the phone. Enter Hilary. She is Emily’s case worker. I tell her I’ve just flown across the country and then driven an hour and a half and we would like to meet with Emily’s treatment team. She curtly informs me that she has no time to meet with us because she is too busy. I politely but firmly tell her that is an unacceptable response. She again curtly informs me that we will be contacted when they are ready to meet with us.
I know my advocating abilities are going to be challenged to the max. I tell her I’ve been to the website, and my daughter is supposed to have a treatment team of six to eight professionals working on her case. If she is too busy to meet with us, then someone else on her team can talk with us. It doesn’t matter who. She gets frustrated and hangs up.
Shortly, another phone call comes to the lobby phone. Again, I attempt to let Spencer handle it but eventually I have to insist on the phone again. This time it is the psychiatrist. I tell him I expect a face to face meeting. He tells me “it doesn’t work that way” and he will talk to me on the phone. I again firmly explain that is totally unacceptable. I have flown across the country after the state mobile unit requested my presence. (These are buzz words that I was coached to use but were also truthful.) After another 90 minute drive we are requesting to talk to a member of the treatment team in person and that is not unreasonable. Eventually I have to pull out the bigger guns.
“I have already spoken to the Northern Alliance for the Mentally Ill, in fact with president so and so. He has given me the direct number to the Commissioner of Georgia (which is the highest level you can go) and has also provided me with three attorney names. Now I would like to speak in person to the people who are treating my daughter.”
Suddenly, he had time to meet with us.
Now I had been on the phone all morning. We weren’t sure if Emily was going to sign a release for them to talk with me, but she had indeed signed one. That meant there was absolutely ZERO reason for anyone on the entire staff to not freely give me any and all information I had asked for. I found out during the drive, that if Emily hadn’t signed a release, we would have been shit up the crick.
Think about it. My daughter was 10-13’d into a psych ward. That means she was deemed not of sound mind. But the hospital policy is to ask the committed patient whether they want anyone involved in their treatment. The Alliance explained to me there are currently two bills that haven’t been passed yet to address this very concern. I’m not intending any disrespect, but what common sense is there to that policy? If a person is deemed incompetent to make decisions, the family still has no rights or say? The woman who was in the midst of a psychotic episode was able to call the shots. It would not have mattered that when she was still lucid, she told the caseworkers she wanted me in Georgia to help with care. COMPLETELY SENSELESS.
But luckily, I didn’t have to fight that battle because my daughter happily signed a release. She WANTED me involved with her treatment. However, the hospital acted as if I wasn’t allowed to be involved at all. This ridiculous set of phone calls in the lobby of the building where she was hospitalized was just the start of a whole bunch of nightmares inflicted by the hospital.
Anyhow, I got sidetracked. Doc, Spencer and I enter a conference room. I politely ask the doc if it doesn’t make sense to meet with us seeing as they have had my daughter for over 12 hours and no one has even spoken to her yet. I could explain what brought her to their facility, and also crucial information about family history that could help tremendously. He decided that was a good idea and got a piece of paper. We unfolded the weekend of events for him and I also explained the lengthy family history of severe bi-polar disorder on her paternal side. He took a page full of notes. Then he explained that 99% of their patients come in alone and have no family or support system. I told him that helped explain his behavior, but clearly Emily is not in that scenario. According to their website, they have a large family treatment component. Emily is lucky enough to have family that loves and supports her. In fact, she has family that is also educated in this field. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, practicing in the State of New York.
I asked if we could see Emily after making the long trek there. We were told we could see her for one hour on Wednesday evening. What? How does that plan fit in with family treatment? I tell him I understand that it hospital policy, but that it truly makes no therapeutic sense to me. My daughter is sitting in a room, interacting with no one, when she has trained family that loves her. How is that in her best interest?
He said they make exceptions for little kids and I told him I suspected he could make an exception for us if he wanted. He did finally agree to giving us 30 minutes with her. I told him I had planned on staying in a hotel near the hospital so I could be there as many hours as possible. He made it clear that would be a total waste of time and money because I wasn’t going to be near her except for 60 minutes on Wednesday.
It was a long drive home and I was already exhausted from the hours of phone calls and the fierce advocating I had to do right from the get-go. Yikes.