psychiatric social work


Wyoming Man Andy Sandness Gets ‘Miracle’ Face Transplant 10 Years After Attempting Suicide

Via Yahoo

His doctor called it a 'miracle,’ but for Andy Sandness, a face transplant gave him his life back, 10 years after he’d tried to end it all.

The Wyoming man, 31, received a face transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last June in a 56-hour operation, according to the Associated Press.

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Fellow psychiatric social workers...

How are your units staffed? What is your max capacity and usual census?

For reference, there are two full-time social workers on our unit. We have capacity for 29 but census is usually anywhere from 12-22. We are part of the social work/case management department but also separate. There is no cross-training so when one of us is out, the other has to handle the entire unit (which means completing all initial assessments within one business day from admission and all discharge planning).

I’m curious how psych units at other hospitals are staffed. I really think we need a per diem social worker or a medical social worker who is cross trained but have no frame of reference to know if this is common practice.

Ted Bundy became a paid work-study student at about the time I became a volunteer. While I worked a four-hour shift one night a week from 10 P.M. to 2 A.M., Ted worked from 9 P.M. to 9 A.M. several nights a week. There were fifty-one volunteers and a dozen work-study students manning the crisis lines around the clock. Most of us never met because of the staggered schedules, and the circumstances that made Ted and me partners were purely coincidental. I have pondered on that ted coincidence in the years since, wondered why I should have been the one out of fifty-one to spend so much time with Ted Bundy. None of those on the phone were professional psychiatric social workers, but we were people who were empathetic and who sincerely tried to help the clients who called in in crisis. All of the volunteers and work-study students had to pass muster first during interviews with Bob Vaughn, the protestant minister who directed the Crisis Clinic and Bruce Cummins who had a Masters in psychiatric social work. Through the three-hour intake interviews, we had “proved” that we were essential! normal, concerned, and capable people who were not likely to panic in emergencies. It was a favorite joke among the crew that we must have our heads on straight or we wouldn’t be there dealing with other peoples’ problems. After going through a forty-hour course which featured psychodramas with would-be volunteers answering staged calls which represented the more common problems we might expect, we were trained by experienced volunteers in the phone rooms themselves-allowed to listen in on calls through auxilliary receivers. Ted and I were trained by Dr. John Eshelman, a brilliant and kind man who is now head of the economics department at Seattle University. I remember the first night I met Ted. John gestured toward a young man sitting at a desk in the phone room which adjoined ours with only an arch separating us, “This is Ted Bundy. He’ll be working with you.” He looked up and grinned. He was twenty-four then, but he seemed younger. Unlike most of the other male college students of that era who wore long hair and often beards, Ted was clean-shaven and his wavy brown hair was cut above the ears, exactly the style that the male students had worn when I had attended the University fifteen years before. He wore a tee shirt, jeans, and sneakers, and his desk was piled with textbooks. I liked him immediately. It would have been hard not to. He brought me a cup of coffee and waved his arm over the awesome banks of phone lines, “You think we can handle all this? John’s going to turn us loose alone after tonight.” “I hope so,” I answered. And I did devoutly hope so. Suicides-in-progress seemed to make up only about ten percent of the calls coming in, but the range of crises was formidable. Would I say the right thing? Do the right thing? As it turned out, we made a good team. Working side by side in the cluttered two rooms on the top floor of the building, we seemed to be able to communicate in emergencies without even having to speak. If one of us got a caller on the line who was actually threatening suicide, we would signal the other to call the phone company and put a trace on the line. The wait always seemed endless. In 1971 it took almost an hour to get a trace and an address if we had no hint about the area of town from which the call was coming. The one of us who was on the line with the would-be suicide would attempt to maintain a calm, caring tone while the other raced around the offices making calls to get help to the caller. We had callers who became unconscious from overdoses many times, but we always managed to keep the lines open. Then there would be the welcome sound of Medic I crews breaking in, sounds of their voices in the room with the caller, and finally, the phone would be picked up and we would hear “It’s O.K. We’ve got him; we’re on the way to Harborview.” If, as many people believe today, Ted Bundy took lives, he also saved lives. I know he did, because I was there when he did it. I can picture him today as clearly as if it were only yesterday, see him hunched over the phone, talking steadily, reassuringly-see him look up at me, shrug, and grin. I can hear him agreeing with an elderly woman that it must have been beautiful indeed when Seattle was lit only by gas lights, hear the infinite patience and caring in his voice, see him sigh and roll his eyes while he listened to a penitent alcoholic. He was never brusque, never hurried. Ted’s voice was a strange mixture of a slightly western drawl and the precise clipped phraseology of an English accent. I might describe it as courtly.

Folks in hospital social work…is it common for holidays to be wrapped up in your total PTO allowance? I was unaware until after starting work here that I don’t actually have the same amount of PTO I had at my last job because 6 of those days are holidays. And on my unit, we don’t work holidays so whether I want to or not, I have to use PTO for Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc. I’m just wondering if this is standard for hospitals.