Co-worker is former patient

  1. Would you be concerned if you discovered that one of your co-workers was a former(2 yrs. ago) patient on your unit? This nurse was hospitalized with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, and stayed in lock-up for two weeks. According to the nurses who cared for her during her hospitalization, she was one of the sickest people they had ever dealt with. I feel uncomfortable working with her because she is extremely guarded and hardly ever speaks to any of us unless we initiate the conversation. Just mostly stares and has a strange look on her face. What happens if she doesn't take her meds one day? Am I being overly sensitive? How would you handle this?
    •  
  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   Furball
    She made it through nursing school....sooooo give her a chance! She's probably extremely self concious and guarded for that reason. I don't blame her. Mental illness is still viewed by many as some sort of character flaw rather than illness. Give her support and guidance like for any new grad and just see what happens?
  4. by   ageless
    Befriend her..I am sure she is uncomfortable and could use the support. My guess is that she has a lot to offer her patients in terms of comfort and hope.
  5. by   Gardengal
    Confidentiality for your co-worker with schizophrenia has been breached. You should never have been made aware of this and I question the intent of your co-workers who brought this up. As mental health professionals they should recognize that there are many individuals who live with diagnosis' that when treated are fully functional individuals.

    Your new co-worker needs your support. If you begin to see behaviors which are questionable they should be brought to the attention of your manager. If not, let it go. I imagine that this co-worker shared her diagnosis with employee health because pre-employment drug screens would reveal meds and these would need to be declared up front.

    I find it interesting that we talk about confidentiality of others in the health care profession, but frequently do not honor it ourselves. Why is that? If I were this nurse I would be guarded too. It's pretty easy to discern when people are talking about you. That poor person, I guess it shows why confidentiality is so important.
  6. by   sunnygirl272
    not to be the ****** here....
    although i agree that her confidentiality was breached...
    she had to have expected that at least some of the caregivers she had would still be employed on the unit....and...well....
    ahh....fergit it....:stone
  7. by   Gardengal
    In reading my post I guess I didn't answer your question well, and came off as holier than thou.......I apologize. It's just that confidentiality is a pet peeve of mine. (A friend of mine who is a nurse recently had a gyne surgery not long ago. She was sexually abused by her stepfather as an adolescent, and somehow I started hearing about this in conversation in the hospital. She works ICU and really never had dealings with the OB/GYN area of the facility. As soon as I heard this I went to the manager of the department she was in post op. No one had any business discussing this as it was not germaine to her treatment and caused her embarassment 2o years after she thought she was done dealing with the emotional aspect of the abuse)

    I find it offensive that when one of our own comes in for treatment of any sort everyone seems to know their business. Maybe I should start a thread along those lines.

    In answer to your question, as I said if you notice anything it should be brought to the attention of your manger-just as if you noticed anything strange which concerned you about another co-worker should be brought up. It might also be a good idea to decrease workplace tension if there was open discussion about this(by one of the nurses who worked with this new coworker as a patient-and that new coworker)

    I reallly have to question why anyone would put herself in such a situation...working where you were a patient??????Obvously some of your coworkers would know you. Did the new co-worker think that there would be more understanding or support? Did she discuss this with the manager? Is it a manager who was not there 2 years ago? The questions are endless. I wish I had more answers.
  8. by   GeorgiaGirl
    I reallly have to question why anyone would put herself in such a situation...working where you were a patient??????Obvously some of your coworkers would know you. Did the new co-worker think that there would be more understanding or support? Did she discuss this with the manager? Is it a manager who was not there 2 years ago? The questions are endless. I wish I had more answers


    I wonder the same thing. ALL the same nurses on the unit were working there while she was a patient. Including the nurse manager who hired her AND was one of her caregivers. In addition, two of the nurses were injured by this former patient. I am in total agreement with all of you about patient confidentiality, but I do appreciate being warned about her past behavior....just in case. We are very supportive of her and wish her the best, but I am still leery of working beside her in the same seclusion room, where SHE, herself was restrained just 24 mos. ago.
    Last edit by GeorgiaGirl on Nov 11, '02
  9. by   duckie
    Maybe she chose this place to work BECAUSE of the fact that the nurses knew her and she trusted them and felt they would give her extra support in trying to become a part of the nursing field. I would say that she had found comfort in the care she received as a patient and hoped it would carry over to her being a coworker there. Instead of shunning her and talking about her behind her back, maybe all the nurses should remember why they choose to enter this field and to reach out to this young lady and try help her put her life back together, instead of judging her. A little love and encouragement goes a long ways and she didn't ask to have this disorder, no more than I asked to suffer from depression, or someone else a diabetic. It's a disease and until she proves she cannot handle the situation, PLEASE encourage all the staff to work with her, not against her. You never know, she may end being one of the best nurses there. Just my thoughts.
  10. by   Furball
    Agree Duckie. Whenever I have a pt with an NGT sometimes they mention that I'm the only nurse who manipulates it extremely gently.......probably because I remember how horrible it was when I had one stuffed down my throat at age 10.

    She just might become the best nurse in your unit if given the chance.....
  11. by   canoehead
    Why not just ask her about her experience, and how she came to choose psych as her specialty? I bet you will learn a lot, and it will help break the ice. No doubt she has noticed that some staff are not comfortable, but may not know what to say. I think that making a point of saying something positive about her to other staff will help ease her way too, and make her feel valued if it gets back to her.
  12. by   donmurray
    To borrow Duckies' example of diabetes, would anyone even think to question why a diabetic nurse "would put herself in that situation"? We no longer live in the dark ages when those with a mental illness were thought to be "possessed by demons".....or do we?
    Canoehead is right, talk to her, try to make her feel welcome, and learn a little.
  13. by   BadBird
    Ok, I know a lot of you will blast me for this but psych patients are just plain odd, even when on meds, some just have a look to them like you look right through them, no all, just some. As far as the confidentiality issue is, how much confidentiality does she expect knowing she was a patient there and then seeking employment at the same facility? I think it is unrealistic of her to expect no one to wonder if she will have a relapse. That said, being a professional I think all her co-workers should support her decision to work there and treat her as a member of the team. I would always wonder in the back of my mind if she was going to wig out if I noticed some odd behavior. Ok, so I am not politically correct, just honest in my answer. I don't condem anyone for working in their chosen field but I don't condem others for being a little concerned either.
  14. by   GeorgiaGirl
    Originally posted by BadBird
    Ok, I know a lot of you will blast me for this but psych patients are just plain odd, even when on meds, some just have a look to them like you look right through them, no all, just some. As far as the confidentiality issue is, how much confidentiality does she expect knowing she was a patient there and then seeking employment at the same facility? I think it is unrealistic of her to expect no one to wonder if she will have a relapse. That said, being a professional I think all her co-workers should support her decision to work there and treat her as a member of the team. I would always wonder in the back of my mind if she was going to wig out if I noticed some odd behavior. Ok, so I am not politically correct, just honest in my answer. I don't condem anyone for working in their chosen field but I don't condem others for being a little concerned either.
    Thanks for your "honesty." Being politically correct might have it's place at times, however, I don't feel this is one of them. The staff's treating her as a professional, and are being supportive, but I still feel apprehensive and concerned about a relapse. And, her "guarded" behavior doesn't make working with her any easier.

close