Considering Hospital Care?

?????????Most people with mental illnesses  receive mental healthcare,  at a doctor’s office, community mental health center, support group or other setting.  Receiving care near where you work or live enables you to pursue a full productive life. There are times, however, when hospital care may be necessary for people in crisis.  Of the 52 million people in the USA in 1994 who had a mental health disorder, only 0.5 percent of them were hospitalized in a 24hour or residential care setting (CMHS, 2000) Deciding whether hospitalization or in-patient care is appropriate can be difficult and should be considered with the consultation of a mental health professional. If in-patient care becomes necessary, this pamphlet will help you ensure the best care possible. Questions to ask:

Consider before admission:

  • Have you or your loved one in need been professionally evaluated?  By whom?   Do you understand the diagnosis?
  • If you or your family member have not been evaluated, why are you seeking admission?
  • a)  The person’s safety, or the safety of others?
  • b) A doctor’s recommendation?
  • c) Which of the symptoms your family member is exhibiting are causing concern?
  • Do you or your family member have an advance directive in place?  What does it say about in-patient care?

Ask the hospital/treatment center at check-in

  • Does your facility treat patients  for this specific diagnosis only?
  • If the patient has other health or emotional problems will he/she receive treatment for these problems also?
  • Does your facility require tests when admitted?  If so, what are they?
  • Who will perform these tests?
  • Who will evaluate the patient when he/she is admitted?
  • What are the person’s qualifications/title?
  • Will the individual be seen by this professional on a regular basis?
  • When will the initial evaluation take place?
  • Is there a consumer advocate we can contact in case of complaints or grievances?

Financial and Insurance Issues:

  • Does the hospital accept our insurance?  
  • If not, what are the alternatives?  
  • If it does, what is covered?
  • Can coverage be reviewed with a member of the staff?
  • Are there separate charges for physicians, therapists or caretakers?  What are these charges?
  • How are fees assessed?
  • When will billing occur?
  • If insurance  covers only part of the cost, what other arrangements  can be made for payments?
  • Is other assistance available?  
  • Will the facility accept partial payments of payments on a schedule?

During the patient’s stay:

  • When can I (or another family member) talk to the therapist or doctor?
  • Will we be able to discuss treatment with the doctor or therapist?  When?  How often?
  • When can family members visit?  How long?
  • Will the patient have a daily schedule of activities or treatments?  If so, what activities will the patient be involved in?
  • Is therapy (group or individual) available and is it part of the treatment plan?
  • What clothes should the patient bring?
  • How long will the patient be at the facility?  
  • Who makes this decision?
  • Will the family be advised of changes in treatment?
  • Who will make the evaluation for discharging the patient?  
  • When will this happen?

Ask the therapist:

  • What can the individual and family expect during the treatment process?
  • What reactions/behaviors of the patient are possible?
  • How should the family respond?
  • How can the individual and family prepare for unexpected behavior and possible setbacks?

Leaving the hospital:

  • Will someone advise our loved one and family about adjustment concerns such as the need for further counseling or a medication schedule?
  • What can we expect when our family member is discharged?
  • Will he/she be on medications?  Which ones?
  • How will these medications help?  
  • Are they habit-forming?  
  • What are the side effects?  
  • What is the dosage?  
  • Will he/she have to be on these medications forever or is there a time or point when they can be discontinued?
  • What alternatives are there?
  • What community supports are there?
  • What resources are available for reintegration into their lives and the community?
From NAMI PA – Butler County

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