Mental Health Cuts Put Strain On Melrose Emergency Room

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Between the pings of the monitoring equipment and the general hum of activity in the emergency room at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, bits of conversation between the staff drift in and out across the nurses’ desk.

At the beginning of the evening shift, nurses are monitoring the behavior of two of the patients. One is suicidal. One has had too much to drink. A security guard watches over them. Right now, the patients are calm, and they do not disturb the rhythm of the ER.

Nurse Sue Croft is headed home. “Too bad you weren’t here earlier,” Croft says. “When we had a lot of psychiatric out-of-control people. Like this morning, during our staff meeting, at 6:45 this morning, there was angry outbursts. A patient that didn’t like men. So that was a problem, since the security guys are all men.”

In recent months, the emergency room has seen an increase in these kinds of incidents.

This program aired on July 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.