Going In: Part Two – Administrivia

Death by administration: isn’t it wonderful to know it’s omnipresent?

Don’t get me wrong, Australia has an amazing mental health system. But …….

After all the dramas of almost being  ‘mis-admitted’ into a psychiatric intensive care unit (you can read about that here), my husband and I were instructed to leave all my luggage on the bed in my shared room and then wait in an interview room. Interview rooms in H* are tinier than the police interview rooms you see on TV shows, but have no windows, beyond a peekhole in the door so it’s possible to tell whether the room is occupied or not. Still, the seats are comfy, and the floors are carpeted. It was 3: 05pm when we entered.

The Boss soon arrived and we completed all the administrative paperwork. I gave him the hairy eyeball whenever he was asking me to sign a form with the words ‘acute care’ on it until he explained that was more about the need for hospitalization rather than relating to the ICU. (How suspicious I’ve become!) He then breezily left with the promise that a nurse would be along shortly to complete the next phase of my admission.

At 3:45 I told my husband to go home; even though it was a Saturday, we were wary of getting a parking ticket ($72 in this area).

At 4:15 a nurse appeared. We knew each other quite well, even though she has not been my allocated contact nurse before. In the past this would have expedited the administrative process.

By 5:05 we had completed the paperwork she was required to fill out.

Yes, that’s 50 minutes, folks! Across Australia’s mental healthcare system the standard paperwork has changed recently. Nurse N (not her real initial) is a very positive person who believes it will make for better patient outcomes in the long run. I admire her optimism. After two hours, the surge of energy due to my anger at nearly being admitted to ICU was wearing off, and depression was settling once more.

Dinner is served at 5pm, so it wasn’t until after I’d eaten and called one of my best friends that I finished unpacking.

This has been a very boring post. I suppose this is appropriate, as it was a very boring couple of hours. There seemed to be a lot of questions which would have been frequently documented in my file already … still, ours not to question why; ours but to wait while the nurse fetches another pen, because the ink had run out in hers.

The third and final installment in this admission triptych is the happiest. My regular admitting psychiatrist is out of town, so I was formally admitted by a ‘fill in’ doctor, and guess what? …. no spoilers! You’ll just have to wait for next time.


* My self-imposed rule of anonymity requires that I preserve even the anonymity of institutions. This “H” is the hospital I was being admitted to.

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