Navos Psychiatric Hospital is like a human zoo, unlike any other hospital in Seattle. The patients at Navos are street folks that society has locked up and caged like wild tigers running loose on the prairie. No one patient is like the next patient; they’re all different like night and day. Some patients come in slobbering like a babies, who are teething, and unable to put any words together to form complete a sentence. Some come here strapped to gurneys with their hands and feet tied together with four Velcro straps to restrain them from moving in any position.
This facility is filled with panhandlers who want to just have three hot meals and a paper thin green flat mattress to rest their heads on. I’m sure they also appreciate the filtered heat that’s provided to them in this cold blustery winter season. Navos Psychiatric Hospital has given me an appreciation for being sane and having all my marbles. The two psych wards here at Navos are rarely peaceful and quiet. Patients are always yelling vague, rude, and racist comments at the top of their lungs. Their scratchy high pitch voices are never a good sign on the unit.
Raspy, loud, irritating voices echo through the two tan painted narrow hallways that give the unit a cozy feeling almost too close for comfort. Most patients are loud, but they’re a few who choose to use their inside voices like normal people. Some folks used a low soft spoken voice which I have to strain my ear drum or clean some of the wax out of my ear to understand what the heck they’re uttering. Sometimes I hop up on the filthy white counter at the nurse’s station and stick out my ear to understand the words that they’re trying to communicate to me.
There are times when I wish the patients could find a middle ground between the loud irritating voices and the low hard to hear voices. I appreciate having a calming voice and a stable mind frame. Some people on the unit choose to go bare letting everything hang out; we call those folks “Streakiers. ” We had a young heavy set Mexican American woman, who probably stood about 5’4 inches tall, and had long wavy hair that went to the middle of her back. We used to call her the “Streakier Queen”.
She wouldn’t ever keep her navy blue scrubs on her body; it seemed as if she was allergic to them. The unit would be mildly loud and the next thing I know, I could hear a loud thunder stampede sounding noise coming down the hallway.
There she was nude as if she was just born; her breasts were swinging left to right as she ran down the hall. The men joked about her chest hanging down to her waistline as if she had weights on them; I thought that it was really funny. We would have to run down the hallway and grab a blue wool blanket to cover her up. I could image the wool blanket was probably itchier than the blue scrubs she refused to keep on.
I was thrilled when the medication started working; it controlled the strip shows she was providing to the male patients. Working in a mental facility has definitely shone me mental illness could happen to anyone; I’m very glad I’ve been lucky to have been spared. Violence seems to be an epidemic at this psych ward. Some staff members talk about the patients as if we work at a deaf hospital instead of psychiatric hospital. As if they can’t comprehend the English language. Talking bad about patients does sometimes backfire.
Susan was a grumpy middle aged white woman who thought wearing perms with the mullet style was still in style; she didn’t like Gail who was a young, thin built, pretty faced black girl. Gail was coasting down the hallway as she normally did; it kind of seemed as if she was gliding gracefully down the hallway. Her eye balls weren’t visible at all just the eye lids and no words were coming out her mouth parched lips. Susan was running her mouth, as she normally did, gossiping with other staff members close to the nursing station in regard to Gail’s’ menacing behavior.
Out of nowhere Gail’s’ eyes opened wide as if she had seen a ghostly image. She ran full speed ahead, as if she was running in a track meet, in the direction of Susan. Gail punched Susan twice in head with a closed fist. She bounced her head off the glass window making the window shake like an earthquake at the epicenter. Susan dropped like a Chinese noodle off a chopstick and Gail walked on the floor away gliding down the hallway with her eyes shut tightly as if nothing ever happened. Everyday here at Navos is different, yet the fact of the matter still remains the same. I never want to suffer like the patients here from a mental illness.
Mental health is a sad field to work in because I have to see people at the worst time in life. It’s also a rewarding field because I am able to help the patient with what they’re struggling with in life at that moment. Navos Psychiatric Hospital is an exciting place to work because so many different things happen daily. I never get bored with what I do in the mental health field; however, I’m glad that I don’t suffer from a mental illness. Although, the patients are very loud and annoying at times, I do appreciate the knowledge and experience I get from working with them. I never want to deal with the stress of a mental illness.