Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Unfortunate Sexual Incident At Work

I have three fears in this Psych Unit business that I’m in and I’ve touched on this in a post a few months ago: first, death of a patient by suicide, second - sexual behavior between patients, and third - being out of a job. That is why I walk a straight and narrow path and have always remained as vigilant as possible in the 30 plus years I've worked in my position as a mental health worker. I have never relaxed and that's the reason why I don't do overtime work - because working just two days in a row, I give 100 percent all that time. However, in my opinion, you can’t catch them all because things can happen in an instant with just a brief turn of the head or being in a partially blind corner. As much as we attempt to be omnipresent, which is an impossibility, we still miss things. Case in point: on December 6th just before 7 a.m. I was assisting a phlebotomist by escorting her to the patients’ room so she can draw blood and give TB tests. Neither I nor my other coworkers noticed that a male patient had slipped into another male patients’ room. See, we don’t allow patients to visit in each other’s rooms even though they are of the same sex. Just before 7 o’clock, I excused myself from the phlebotomist to do my second to the last rounds of the day before the end of my shift. When I checked one particular patients’ room, I didn’t see him there, which was not unusual because they come and go all the time. I proceeded to check on the other rooms that I was assigned to and when I opened one of the rooms, I saw one male patient lying on his bed in the knee-chest position while another male patient was facing him with his genital area directly positioned towards the lying patients’ buttocks. If that was too graphic for you, I apologize. Well, in a psych unit setting, sexual behavior is a no-no, regardless of whether it’s heterosexual sex or gay sex. All I could do was ask the male in the dominant position to get up and leave the room. He arose and pulled his pants up and left the room while I asked another staff member to call the charge nurse. To complicate matters, we were aware that the dominant male was infected with something I shall not disclose. I described what I saw to the charge nurse and she wrote a report about it.
This is the kind of patient incident that can get someone fired because you may be blamed that you had not done your job well for something like that to happen. I went home agonizing over the incident even though I thought that I had done the best that I could in checking on my assigned patients. I ruminated about how it could have been prevented, so much so that I did not sleep well. Upon waking from my restless sleep, I had three voice mails awaiting me, all saying to call my supervisor so I could give my input on what happened. I composed an email explaining what happened, sent it to my supervisors, then called them. Both calls went to voicemail so I left a message telling them I sent them an email. While waiting to return to work in the evening, I kept on checking my email for a response, but didn’t get any.
If there is anything that would probably support my telling of the event, it would be the omnipresent cameras recording our every move on the unit. The video would show that I was indeed with the phlebotomist and at the time I said I caught the two patients in the act, I was also indeed doing my rounds then. I don’t know what else I can do to prove that I was doing the job I was supposed to be doing. Regardless, I lament that we were not able to prevent it from happening and assigning blame is fruitless because it was a collective failure. I’m awaiting the fallout with trepidation.

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