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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 18:


The situation was critical. Just yesterday he had counted twenty-two bedbugs on one bed -- that was the bed in which Cordusky was tied down every night so that he couldn't move. The night man was complaining about not being able to keep the patients in bed. And no wonder. Even the night man himself had been bitten as he sat in his chair reading. But you just couldn't get rid of bedbugs without some kind of sprayer.


The next day -- Harris' day off -- he found a solution. He went up to visit his friend, Roberta, who worked in the hog barns. There in the corner of the office, Harris saw eight or ten used sprayers. "Say, do you suppose I could get one of those old sprayers?" he asked Roberts.


"Sure. Take all you want. We get new ones every few weeks and aren't using these old ones anyway."


"Gee, swell. Now if I could only get the superintendent to supply me with the kind of cleaners you have here in the cow barn, I'd really be able to give my patients first-class care!"


(Based on report 715)


"Now this, students, is one of the finest, most complete hydrotherapy rooms in the state."


The student nurses, who were making a tour of the state hospital, looked around approvingly at the gleaming white tuba and showers, steam boxes, and sprays.


"Everything necessary to give any kind of approved water or temperature treatment is in this one department," the nursing instructor continued. Then she went on to describe the use of continuous tubs, the sitz bath, the needle spray, and an endless number of other modern treatment aids.


Several of the students had sensed the warm personality of the jolly old ward nurse who was assisting with the tour, and had been listening to her stories with much interest. When the description of the equipment ended, the girls began to wander around the room, and the old nurse remarked to a few of them:


"There's only one thing the matter with this room."


"What's that?" a couple of students asked.


"It hasn't been used for over two years."


"Not used! Why not?"


"Well, it's like that beautiful seven-hundred dollar anesthetic machine you saw upstairs in the operating room. That machine has never been used since it came in -- for the simple reason that none of the doctors know how to use it, and none of them will learn."


The old nurse smiled gently. "You know -- old dogs and new tricks? Well, this hydro room is the same story. Any decent nurse and a few attendants could run this room. They'd do a wonderful thing for the poor patients we keep locked up twenty-four hours a day. But we're so short-handed we have to put every nurse and attendant on the wards."


"Having the tubs open would lighten the work on the wards, wouldn't it?" one student asked.


"Oh, yes! It would probably save enough trouble that we could spare the people to run it. But you know how it is -- it's easier to stay in an old rut than climb out for a view of where you're going."


Again the old nurse smiled at the young students. "Maybe one of you will come back and run this department when you graduate."


Several of the girls thought maybe they would.


(Based on reports 780 and 793)




"Working on the theory that the institution has the double function of medical practice and business management, a few states have tried the experiment of placing a medical director in charge of the treatment of patients and a business manager in control of the economic side of the organization. This is an administrative absurdity." (2)

(2) Reprinted from Administrative Psychiatry by William A. Bryan, M.D., by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., copyright 1936, by the publishers.




"Attendant! It's freezing in here. Can't you put some more heat on? At least get out some blankets and cover the patients up." Dr. Lord was making his nightly rounds, and he was concerned about the early cold snap.


"I'm sorry, doctor. I've been trying to get some blankets ever since it turned so cold last week; but they tell me I can't have blankets until after September fifteenth. The heat doesn't go on until then either."


"That's foolish. I know there are hundreds of blankets stored in the supply building. I've seen them myself."


"But the Business Manager says they aren't to be used until after September fifteenth."


"Well, this is no business matter. This is a medical problem. We'll have pneumonia all over the hospital if this keeps up."


"We sure will, doctor."


Dr. Lord strode to the telephone. "Operator. Ring Dr. Bloom on an emergency call, please." He explained the situation to Dr. Bloom, but Bloom said he couldn't do anything about it.


"But, Dr. Bloom, these old patients are going to get pneumonia. Dozens of them already have bad colds. You know very well that half of them who get it will die of it."


"That's right, Lord. But, as Medical Director of the hospital, I can't do a thing about it. Stanhope admits that winter has come early this year, but he claims that his budgets and quotas run by the calendar, not by the thermometer."

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