Former Patient Asked Me For Money - page 2

I work at a psych hospital as an aide. Tonight a former patient, obviously homeless, approached me at Kroger and asked for money. I didn't recognize him at first and told him I didn't have any cash.... Read More

  1. by   chicookie
    Quote from pagandeva2000
    Fortunate for me, right? LOL
    RIGHT! Plus next time you see him you can say look there is dinner, throw a dinner roll and runaway! :spin:
  2. by   sunnycalifRN
    Quote from ramcda3
    I work at a psych hospital as an aide. Tonight a former patient, obviously homeless, approached me at Kroger and asked for money. I didn't recognize him at first and told him I didn't have any cash. As I left it suddenly hit me who he was and I felt really guilty. I remember this man being nice, but very out of touch - constant hallucinations, paranoia, talking to himself, etc. I don't remember him withdrawing from any drugs or alcohol. So, as I was leaving, in the parking lot, I asked, "Have you been to 'name of floor'?" and he said yes, so I gave him a bag of non-perishable food and soda I had just bought. I feel really weird about the situation and I'd appreciate hearing from anyone with a similar experience.
    My questions:
    Was that a really stupid, unsafe thing to do (parking lot at night)? He was nice, but would you risk it?
    Was it breaking any rules for me to mention the hospital if he didn't first? That name wouldn't have been obvious to the general public. I was trying to be subtle.
    Also, this patient is a 'frequent flyer,' so have it just made it really awkward for myself next time he's there?
    I don't work in psych, but I do think you were breaking patient contact rules. When I did my psych clinical rotation, I distinctly remember the staff telling us not to interact with former psych patients that we might encounter in the community. It's for your safety.
  3. by   pagandeva2000
    Quote from chicookie
    RIGHT! Plus next time you see him you can say look there is dinner, throw a dinner roll and runaway! :spin:
    Sounds like a serious plan. ;D
  4. by   Ivanna_Nurse
    Quote from Anisettes
    What a sad world we live in when we start to question our compassion. Could it have been dangerous? Maybe, but I bet the twin sisters who sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with their brother a few days ago never thought they were in danger of their brother shooting and killing them, but he did. We are none of us guaranteed a tomorrow. Take care of yourself and exercise caution, but don't overthink everything or you'll paralyze your good nature.

    I'm really not PC, I give money, food, whatever to anybody, anytime. Drunks never left my ED in the morning without breakfast (I know, shoot me - I don't care). I give money to people I KNOW are going to drink it away. But I'm not homeless and broken but I do know what it feels like to just want everything to 'go away' and if a bottle of wine gets someone through a darkness of spirit I never want to experience, then so be it - I'm certainly not curing him by NOT giving away my pocket change and I'm the last person to judge anybody or instruct them on how I think they should live their life.

    I really can't advise anything but what I do myself - follow you heart and your gut. Don't ever let a dirty body and torn clothes keep you from seeing the struggling person inside it. The Light is in us all and we're only lost or wrong when we can no longer see it and be affected by it.

    I think you did a kind thing and giving him the food was right. The tiniest acts of kindness can be immeasurable in their impact - just as can thoughtless cruelty or even worse - indifference.
    What a moving, amazing post.
  5. by   7student7
    Thanks for all the replies. I've run into multiple homeless people I recognize from work at this grocery store, so I started going to a different grocery store!
    The dinner roll thing was too funny!
  6. by   ITALY123
    Well, I think that was a very selfless thing you did. Yes, I can see were it could potentially dangerous coming out to him in the parkinglot. ?? I am not sure what I would of done. I would have probably been to scared to walk out into a dark parking lot lol ........but I am a big baby. He probably approached every body leaving the store that night and just thought you were another face, I would have not brought up the hospitals name though because of HIPPA laws and such and if he were to say something I guess someone could have turned it around to make a very great thing you did sound bad????? IDK but the world needs more kind hearted people such as yourself............xoxoxo
  7. by   Michaelxy
    I have some experience with the homeless here in downtown San Diego. My wife and I have done some volunteer work with a few shelters. Last Christmas the wife and I handed out blankets at various corners in the dark dank recesses of the downtown streets. With this experience I have learned one very important thing.

    Many of these people are nice, but every once in awhile you encounter an individual that reminds you of Stephen kings movie The Shining where Jack Nicholson say's "Here's Johnny!" What I mean to say is that when dealing with the homeless one can never know what to expect as many are very unpredictable and can be prone to violence.

    Never deal with a homeless person in a less than secure environment as you never know what you may encounter. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, mental illness, or shear utter despair, a homeless person has little to lose and is often living along a fine line of the breaking point.

    as I mentioned earlier, last Christmas, my wife and I were handing out blankets from the back of my truck. I approached one very large homeless man and asked if he would like a blanket and he said yes. As I pulled out a blanket the man went crazy on me saying something about the blanket being a prison blanket. I was attacked and struck in the face, I jumped into my truck bed and yelled at my wife to take off, which she did.

    Being that we still had about 25 blankets left to pass out and I had lost my giving spirit, we found a shelter and dropped off our remaining blankets.

    We will continue to assist with the homeless in the future but only under better organized conditions such as through non profit orgs and shelters. Never deal with these folks alone as much as your guilt tugs at your heartstrings.

    I commend your sentiment, but I would encourage caution should a similar situation arise again.
    Last edit by Michaelxy on Mar 3, '10
  8. by   lupincu
    I think you'd better keep away from that guy!
  9. by   diane227
    No, No, No, don't even think of ever going there, ever.
  10. by   GooeyRN
    I wouldn't have asked him if he was a patient at xyz hospital, but I would have told him he looked familiar and given him the food. I don't like giving $ away, but have no problem giving some food to anyone, addicted or not. Everyone NEEDS food and clothing regardless of their issues.

    This will probably be frowned upon, but at the psych unit I work on, staff frequently gives patients gifts and clothing when they have very little.