I’ve been hospitalized twice. I’m not an expert, but I’ve been in inpatient care two more times than most politicians and healthcare providers. My experiences have given me insight as to how we might improve the stays of patients. Here are five of my suggestions:
Exercise. At both hospitals I’ve been to, there has been nowhere for us to exercise. I’ve gotten in trouble for pacing the hallways as I tried to keep myself active. It is scientifically proven that exercise has a positive effect on mental health. Why aren’t we providing patients with a space to work up a bit of a sweat?
More materials. Outdated ratty magazines, half-filled-in crossword puzzles, dried out markers. There was nothing stimulating in either psych ward. We were told to either watch TV, draw, or sit quietly. Most people went back to their rooms to sleep. There were hours where we were supposed to occupy ourselves with nothing.
Weekend releases. During my first hospital stay, I was not quite ready to go home on a Friday. But because the doctor doesn’t come in on weekends, I had to wait until Monday for discharge. This cost my family, my insurance, and the hospital more money. Patients should only stay in the hospital as long as necessary. That weekend was long and painful. All I could think about was going home for Christmas.
Personal therapy. I expected that while I was in the hospital I would get the opportunity to talk with a therapist. I did – for ten minutes on my first day. Group is valuable, but it’s impossible to get individual help when everyone is competing for attention. This is a tricky issue, but I think that some sort of compromise can be reached.
Easier billing. My mom is still being billed for my hospitalization in September. I understand that the process of billing and insurance is complicated, but this is ridiculous.
Some of my requests are lofty, and I know it. There is a lot wrong with American healthcare in general. Problems like billing are pervasive; solutions won’t be found overnight. As an insider, these were things I noticed that I would like to see changed.
When I described my ideal hospitalization, my fellow NAMI panelist suggested I try a spa. It seems unfortunate that celebrities get to heal at beautiful, relaxing rehab facilities while I shuffle around in recycled socks. Like most things, I suppose it all comes down to money.
What are your thoughts? How would you improve inpatient hospitalization?
photo credit: via photopin edited by The Awkward Indie Girl