Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Creator: Frank L. Wright, Jr. (author)
Date: 1947
Publisher: National Mental Health Foundation, Inc.
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16  Figure 17

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Page 17:


"You share the bathroom with the other couples," explained Mrs. Kennett as she showed the way to the little bathroom at the end of the hall. One stool, one tub, one wash-stand, eight people, four men, four women, figured Mr. Rose. Only a twelve-inch mirror, thought Mrs. Rose, and that toilet tissue looks awfully coarse.


It was noon by the time Mrs. Kennett gave the Roses a set of keys to their room. "If you're ready for dinner, I'll show you where you eat." So they went back down the stairs -- Mr. Rose got ninety-three this time because he counted the floor as a step coming down. The sun and fresh air seemed good, thought Mrs. Rose. It was like walking out of a cave, Mr. Rose felt.


"At this hospital, the men and women eat separately," Mrs. Kennett explained. "You eat in that red brick building over there, Mr. Rose. I'm going by the female cafeteria, so you can come along with me, Mrs. Rose."


The Roses looked at each other questioningly. "Well, we'll talk it over after lunch," said Mr. Rose. And he headed for the red brick building, where stew, bread, and custard were waiting for him.


(Based on report 433)




"Adequate and readily available supplies are essential to the proper functioning of a mental hospital. Since we are handicapped by lack of personnel, we should make certain that, the inanimate objects which contribute to patient welfare are available in quantity and quality."


-- PHIL STEER, Editor,
The Psychiatric Aid.


"Margaret, you can open twenty-four cans of peas, if you will," said Miss Ridgely, the new dietitian at the state hospital. She was rapidly discovering that nothing was done here in the way it had been done back at the city hospital where she had been working. But working with the patients was really quite interesting. And using canned foods in such large quantities certainly reduced the work.


Margaret lined up twenty-four quart cans of peas on the table. Then she reached in the drawer and took out a hammer and chisel.


Miss Ridgely drew in her breath. Had Margaret misunderstood? What was she going to do?


The hammer knocked the chisel deftly into the first can top. Margaret twisted it, withdrew, put a smaller hole on the other edge, and went on to the next.


Miss Ridgely went over to Margaret. "Is that the way you always open cans?"


"Yes, ma'am."


"Why don't you use a can opener?"


"There ain't no can opener." The chisel bit into another can.


Miss Ridgely looked and looked, and asked and asked. She did find a can opener -- a 10-cent model, rusted and bent. It had been bought a couple of years before by a patient who liked soda pop and needed a bottle opener.


(Based on report 623)


Dr. Kirkman, the assistant superintendent, walked around the big, barn-like room. He was counting patients.


Then he called the attendant on the ward to him. "Murphy," he said, "you have two hundred and forty-seven Patients on this ward, and only thirty-seven of them have any clothes on. Why is that,"


"Well, sir, a few of them are so destructive that I can't keep clothes on them at all."


"Yes, yes. But that doesn't account for there being over two hundred naked men on this ward."


"No, sir. The truth of the matter is, we just don't have any clothes to put on them."


"Not enough clothes? Hmm! Show me your clothes room.."


Murphy led the way to the clothes room, opened it, and nodded to the empty shelves.


Dr. Kirkman stepped over and counted the entire supply:


ten pairs of shorts and seven shirts. For two hundred and forty-seven patients.


"I save those to dress the men for visitors," Murphy explained. "I never know when the laundry will come in."


"I daresay you don't. It's a crime, though."


"Yes, sir! And, like all crime, it certainly doesn't pay!"


Dr. Kirkman then went over to the male infirmary. There he checked the bedding supply and found that there were forty-two beds with two sheets, two hundred and seventy-nine with one, and nineteen with none -- three hundred and sixty-three sheets for three hundred and forty beds.


Again he called the attendant. "Stone, do you have any sheets in the linen room?"


"Not a one, sir. I'm afraid the night man won't be changing any beds tonight."


"I've been counting things today. You need three hundred more sheets."


"That's right. But if you're counting things, come along. I'll show you something interesting to count."


Stone led the way back to the crowded dormitory of the infirmary. "Now, get ready to count again," he said. He whipped the sheet down off one mattress, and the bedbugs ran for cover en masse. "One of the patients claims he has counted three hundred and seventy-one bugs on one mattress. I don't know about that. But I do know the night man on this ward gets eaten up just sitting in the office."


"I guess I've had enough statistics for today!"


"I imagine so. This is some bug-house."


(Based on reports 259, 265, and 272)


Harris looked sadly at the order blank which had just come back from the hospital supply department. Three items received out of fourteen ordered. He hadn't really expected to get any sheets or towels or clothes or even tobacco for his patients -- but he certainly had hoped the order for an insecticide sprayer would be filled. Six straight weeks he had entered that order -- six straight weeks it had come back marked "None."

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