Charter Hospital of Long Beach

Charter Hospital of Long Beach was a Mental Health and Drug Rehabilitation facility located in Long Beach, CA, and primarily served the communities of North Long Beach and Compton.  I worked as a Psychiatric Assistant on a the Adult Intensive Program (AIP) which was essentially a psychiatric trauma center, under lock and key, and could be characterized as an emergency room for people in mental and emotional crisis.

The unit I worked on housed up to 32 patients manifesting a variety of critical emotional and psychiatric conditions.  Typically, the vast majority of our patients were in there for one of three reasons, either for being a danger to themselves, a danger to others, or for a grave disability; all of which constituted the justification for a 72-hour legal hold on their person for psychiatric observation (Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code; Lanterman–Petris–Short Act).

Typically, most of our cases were either people suffering from a major depressive disorder and had attempted suicide, failed, and were now considered a danger to themselves, requiring observation; or, someone in a violent or highly agitated psychotic state in which they were deemed a threat to the general public, and considered a danger to themselves; and, the last, most common types of cases we saw were those who were gravely disabled, maybe in such a state of emotional or mental disarray that they were not able provide for their own own needs, and therefore most vulnerable to death, physical injury, or criminal exploitation.

My main job duties as a Psychiatric Assistant were to observe, document, and counsel the patients while they were going through the primary stages of their hospitalization.  Much of my work revolved around monitoring the mental status of our patients, as well as, working within in the framework of the therapeutic milieu to ensure a safe and supportive environment focusing on recovery.  Often times, the unit that I worked on was rife with unpredictability, violent outbursts, and the otherwise unbelievable acts of depraved behavior.  People in active states of psychosis, and paranoid delusions were all typical states of mind on the unit I worked, and more often than not, people would act out, and lose control, and so when this would happen, an emergency response was required, in which ‘code teams’ were established to respond to emergency situations.  I was a part of the code team that responded to violent threats and altercations throughout the facility, so when an emergency code announcement was made, we were required to leave our posts, and respond to the unit where the crisis was occurring.

In my time working as a Psychiatric Assistant I saw some pretty gruesome things, but I also met so many great people.  It was often a wonder to see someone come in to our trauma unit in a psychotic rage, handcuffed, and shackled, biting, and spitting, yet, within days of admission, and following a rigor of medicated intervention, some of the most vicious, delusional, out of control people were restored to a state of humanity and dignity that uniquely drives home the efficacy of psychiatric medications for people in emotional and mental crisis.


Related Article(s):

“Hospital Closure in Long Beach Expected to Hit Compton Hard : Health care: After Dominguez Medical Center closes its doors May 31, many fixed-income residents will have to travel several miles to nearest county facility for treatment.”