Friday, January 13, 2006

More Triage

I walk over to the place where incoming prisoners are held before they're sent to whatever unit they're placed in. They wait there after giving up their outside clothes, being searched, and putting on jail scrubs and sandals. They can get called up by a social worker, fingerprinting and photos, the booking officers, or nurses.

I call the guy's name. We've got to see everyone who comes in who says they have a medical or psych issue, just to do a quick assessment and make sure they let us know if there are any meds they have to get while in jail. Sometimes it's really easy and they say they've had a BTK amputation or something and we'll just make sure they get a bottom bunk. Other times it's not so easy and we've got to make sure they can continue with whatever treatments they got on the outside i.e. dialysis, breathing treatments, wound care. Sometimes they've never had any medical help for something (like an abscess or wound) and this will be the first time someone has looked at it.

This guy starts following me back to my little exam room. It's pretty well stocked, and has quite a bit of equipment in it. Crash cart and everything. (is this story getting long??)

Anyway, he walks soooooo slowwwwwly and he's sort of hunched over and he's using a cane to help him walk.


He's not even that old, but he's certainly looking like a train wreck. All the slip said was "back pain" so I'm not really sure what I'm getting into - and how much of it is an act (you have NO IDEA unless you actually work in there what sort of things inmates will do for NO APPARENT REASON OR BENEFIT TO THEMSELVES). I think anyone who has worked in a jail or prison system can back me up on that. I'm still in shell-shock at how often I get straight-up LIED to! It's like a hobby to them or something. There's no reason I can think of for some of the crap they pull. I'm still learning.

He comes into the exam room. I'm already seated at the desk. He slowly lowers himself down into the chair I've motioned for him to sit in.

Once he's settled he just looks at me in a goofy way and sort of shrugs his shoulders.

Me: "Didn't take much to capture you, did it?"

He and I both bust out laughing.

My charge nurse says I'll do fine.
Posted by HypnoKitten at 5:40 PM

Blogger SVN, prn, at 8:30 PM  

Hilarious!! You have a quick wit.

I have a very close friend that is a CO (Correctional Officer) and he has some wild stories. I am shocked that they ever leave you alone with an inmate. In California it is unheard of.

Stay safe.

Anonymous Joan, at 6:04 AM  

Hypno, I can't see a contact email but wanted to let you know that I gave you a plug:

Blogging. A Primer for Volunteer Managers

Blogger HypnoKitten, at 10:56 AM  

SVN: They never leave me alone with an inmate. Everywhere I go I am within view of an officer. When an inmate follows me to the exam room, he's only going from one side of the long rectangular booking area to the other (a long way for this particular guy...) - walking in front of booking desks with about 10 officers, the most of any area in the jail! When in the exam room, I am in full view by about 6 officers, and within a step and a jump of three, who stand at the main booking desk directly outside the exam room. Yes, something COULD happen, like someone could take a swing at me, but I know they'd be on the floor before they could say boo. I feel pretty safe considering the circumstances.

Joan: Thanks for linking to me! I went and read your article and wondered "How did they find my blog?" and then at the bottom noticed it was our own wonderful photographer-nurse friend Joan! :)

Blogger genderist, at 10:06 AM  

Wow. When I was in nursing school I had a rotation through a prison and I really liked it... so I'm just going to continue living vicariously through you.

You mentioned a crash cart. Do you have to get ACLS certified after so long? Who runs the codes?

Blogger Pat Jensen, at 8:29 PM  

Loved your story. I have a friend who used to work in a maximum security prison here in Alberta. She told me you could never tell what a prisoner was 'in for' by looking at them. The tough biker type with a tatoo and missing teeth was usually 'doing time' for tax fraud while the meek, mild mannered, balding school teacher type was there for multiple homicide. I also just wanted to thank you for visiting my blog 'Shocktrauma.' I've linked your site to mine and look forward to reading further tales from the jail.

Blogger HypnoKitten, at 10:52 AM  

genderist: I haven't been told to get ACLS, but I believe the NP or MD on duty would run the code. The defeibrillators are the new ones like they have in schools or offices that when you hook them up, they tell you if you should shock or not. That way the officers can use them too, I guess. They also expect us to call 911, since we're not set up to take on anything emergent. I'm still learning - if I find out that this is wrong, I'll post whatever I find out.

Pat: Thanks for the link! I stop by your blog whenever the 'new' dot shows up on your link at mediblogopathy. I think your pictures are great! It makes me feel like I'm right there.

I was surprised to learn we could look the inmates up and see what they had done. I'm not really into that. I'd rather not know what they did although sometimes you can't help it.

Blogger Nurse Practitioners Save Lives, at 6:28 PM  

I think it's a good idea sometimes to know what they've done but I can see the ethical dilemma. It may cloud your medical objectivity.. I'll keep tuning it for more!

Blogger Nurse2B, at 4:46 AM  

That's a good one! Glad you are liking your new job!

Blogger The Platypus, at 2:36 PM  

When I worked at the place that had the city contract there was a code on the green sheets that indicated the crime they were charged with. We had a reference that identified the codes but they were all pretty vague, just general categories, and we didn't waste any time with it. If a prisoner was particularly obstreperous or inappropriate I might've asked the detail cop what they were in custody for, but ususally it didn't matter and I didn't care.

Blogger Heeds, at 6:58 PM  

yah it sounds like you'll do great there! :)
your posts have been really interesting so far, keep 'em coming as always!!

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