Erik and I went to the hospital Sunday afternoon ready for a long wait. This was not our first round with the Kaseman Behavioral Health Emergency Room. First of all, the Kaseman Behavioral Emergency Room is actually just the Kaseman Emergency Room with an added behavioral health unit.
When you arrive, you fill out a form saying why you’re there and if it’s for a mental health emergency they bring you back right away. (I imagine this is so you can’t change your mind and go run yourself off a bridge.) They will take your vitals and in front of at least two (sometimes more) strangers in the open air of the ER admission station and in full hearing of the ER waiting room, make you say why you have come and whether you have a specific plan for committing suicide. Here is where you will get your hospital bracelet.
Your next stop is insurance. They will put you in their system if you’re not already there and check to see if you are going to owe them anything.
Now your first period of waiting begins. There are chairs against one wall across the hallway from the ER admission station. You are waiting for a room and a bed. This might take an hour. It might take ten minutes.
You have been brought to a room. A nurse will hand you two thin robe-like gowns, one to wear front-to-back and one to wear back-to-front. They will take all your clothes, your shoes, your socks, and all your belongings and either bag and tag them for later or give them to the person you brought with you, if you did. Now your second period of waiting begins. You are waiting for a liaison. The person who will talk to you and relay your message to the psychiatrist who will then decide whether or not you need to be admitted. This might take an hour. It might take 24 hours. If you end up having to stay overnight, you will be moved to an overnight waiting area with recliners, be moved to the behavioral health side of the ER, or you will stay in your current room.
The liaison will come see you. Here is where you will have to get really honest. You will tell this person why you came, what your plans were and how likely you are to follow through if you are not admitted. This person will then leave you to phone the psychiatrist. Your third period of waiting begins. This can take twenty minutes. It might take an hour.
The psychiatrist will either agree that you need to be hospitalized or will not agree and you will be sent home with a “safety plan”. If the doctor agrees that you need to be hospitalized, you will more than likely be sent home with a “safety plan”.
You’re confused. Yes, I know. This part is confusing. You see, Kaseman Behavioral Health Hospital usually only has enough staff for twenty-four beds. If Kaseman is full, they will call the UNM Psychiatric Hospital and see if they have any beds. If no beds are available at either of these two places, they will call Mesilla Valley Psychiatric Hospital in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Depending on your condition, you will either have the choice of being discharged with a “safety plan” or you will have no choice and they will send you to wherever there is an open bed.
This is the generic story of going to Kaseman Behavioral Health Emergency Room. Coming up next, my story.