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Excellent and accurate description of what is happening across Vermont in emergency departments. Don’t “change the channel”.
Erica–Excellent story! Powerful and sooo important. Thank you for your amazing storytelling.
Needed to hear this today. I’ve depended on nurses for most of my life in relation to medical care. Let’s face it, they are the backbone. More need to hear this–like our legislature that has just started work. This was so good even though it had a hard subject. I knew it was bad, but these nurses talking about it? Laudable.
I work in a hospital setting in close contact with the ER; I could hear how overwhelmed everyone in this story is, perhaps I’m just attuned to this feeling right now. Thank you Erica, public attention to these issues could be so helpful!
Erica, I always enjoy your stories, however, this one really hit home. I am an ER nurse in a hospital in PA. Every one of these voices could have come from me or someone I work with. It was all stated so well that I need not elaborate. The words I most use when speaking of these patients are: heartbreaking, and frustrating. The first is hopefully understandable. The latter relates to dealing with a system for treating these people that is not only inadequate, but seems to be shrinking on a daily basis. Every one suffers. Patients, care givers, families, every one. I appreciate you bringing attention to an issue that many people are unaware of or simply choose to ignore.
Well done Erica. Such an important topic to highlight and bring to public awareness. This isn’t solely a Vermont problem…it’s a problem world-wide.
Bravo. Wise words, well spoken. This is a serious issue that certainly needs some front page attention. Thank you for giving it just that.
An amazing if heartbreaking episode. Thank you for all the work you do, Erica. I had a few thoughts after listening:
1) how mental health is still not treated equivalently to physical health. The lack of funding, the closing of hospitals (can you imagine a world where the Dept of Health says, well, we have this new idea of how to treat heart disease/cancer/kidney failure: we’re going to shut the available hospitals and set up these other ones that can do x,y,z better. We are just going to do that and then shift care as necessary for patients. What???) There’s also the kicking of the can down the road, which leads to…
2) how mental health patients end up in the care of other institutions. I’m more familiar with the legal system as the stop-gap measure: that is, people don’t get needed treatment until they break the law and end up in prison or are on pre-trial parole-like agreements, with mandatory medical treatment part of that agreement. In this situation, mental illness is criminalized, the person has not just health issues but legal issues, and two systems are hit with burdens (caseloads, financial costs, etc). This ER crisis is newer to me, and I’m glad to have learned more through this podcast. The general issue seems similar to me: some other system is bearing the brunt of unmet mental health needs. But with the toll it takes on other patients in the ER and healthcare workers, there are costs well beyond those the legal/police system carries in such cases.
I don’t know how we find our way out of this mess, especially considering we can’t as a country even agree that the ACA has improved options for Americans. It isn’t by any means the magic solution to all our woes—if I recall, mental health was supposed to be funded equally under the ACA, but that provision was either never funded or cut from the final bill. For me, it comes down to the loss of responsibility to and for each other, of community. We need to see our nation from the perspectives of the weakest and least powerful, not the wealthiest and most profit-driven.
Such an important topic. Thank you for covering it. I hope those who can actually address this issue are among those who are listening.
I listened to your podcast Emergency with very much interest, sadness, frustration, and gratitude. Mental Healthcare is in crisis, as is physical healthcare. Too much “turn the channel” and “it’s not my problem” and “they’re just a bunch of crazy people anyway” attitudes and beliefs. I have worked in the mental health field for almost 20 years, and continue to see the decline. I have worked for public mental health and also private pay mental health. I currently work in a system that continues to be broken. I have some ideas on what might work to bring about change, but who wants to take a chance? Nobody. Just keep throwing less and less money at the problem and hope it goes away. The primary provider of mental health care/housing in this country is…. drum role please….the prison system. Topic for an episode or two? Perhaps. It would be nice to hear some ideas on things that work, and not so much on how the system is broken. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for getting these powerful testimonials and calls for help into the public domain. As a former Mental Health Recovery Specialist and State of Vermont front-line employee (VSEA) at the VT Psychiatric Care Hospital, last winter, I joined many highly concerned health care professianals throughout VT. as we provided, in graphic detail, the stories of assualts on patients, on employees and how inadequate staffing of the hospital results in dangerous consequences. It’s very painful to hear these pleas for a sustained, emergency response to the crisis in our VT mental health care system repeated over and over only to watch our leaders in the VT statehouse thank us, smile and/or cry and move on to what they see as more important matters. I’m writing this as our governor is giving his annual budget address and warning us to spend only what “we can afford”. In this “Emergency” it appears, yet again, that there may not be any emergency responders coming in order to address the alarm bells that we continue to ring.
This week the VT State Employees Association (VSEA) posted a video on Youtube in which five VPCH former and current employees, including myself, speak out in order to educate the community on the critical work that is being done to assist individuals with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders to become well and return home.
Thank you, again, for your powerful program on this set of subjects!! Seeking Hope in the Dark and believing in possibilities.
Excellent show, Erica. What an important issue. As much as I don’t like the idea of large mental health institutions, it seems that we need a solution on a larger scale to better serve and accomodate people with mental health issues. There just aren’t enough community mental health facilities to pick up the slack. It seems cruel to everyone involved not to provide better and adequate care. How long can ER nurses continue to do what they are doing? Thank you for your focus on this crisis.
Very powerful and so sad. I wonder how increased marijuana use will now impact the mental health of Vermont?
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