Common Questions - Inpatient Guide

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Staying at a hospital as a mental or behavioral health patient is usually a new experience for people. North Central Health Care is a state-of-the-art facility designed to meet the diverse needs of the patients we serve. Learn more about our services and patient responsibilities from these answers to frequently asked questions.

May I smoke on the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital or on the grounds of North Central Health Care Facilities?

Due to health concerns related to tobacco use and the desire of North Central Health Care to promote a healthy environment both inside the facility and on its grounds the management of the facility has chosen to not allow smoking by staff, clients/patients, visitors, or guests within the facility or on the grounds. Unit nicotine supplements may be prescribed for clients who have a hard time with this.

Is the facility an Inpatient drug and alcohol long term rehabilitation program and what medications are used?

The Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital is a short term, generally one to three day, detoxification program. Patients are released to an Outpatient program when considered medically stable. The voluntary admission of patients for drug detoxification will be accepted if the patient is actively engaged in counseling or has been in other treatment programs for the past two months. Opiates are not used as part of treatment.

Do I have a private room? Bathroom?

Rooms are either double or four bedrooms. All rooms have a shared bathroom with a shower. There are no televisions or telephones in patient rooms. There is a telephone in the common are for use during free time.

About how much does it cost to stay on the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital unit per day?

The cost is approximately $1000 per day including the Psychiatric, Social work, and medication costs. Some of the costs may be paid by insurance(s) but ultimately are the responsibility of the Client or the Patient. It is always recommended to check with your insurance prior admission to understand your coverage.

Will I be prescribed the medications I desire when I am at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital?

Every effort is made to maintain your comfort and safety at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital. A psychiatrist consultation occurs immediately after admission. Depending on the type of medication you currently are prescribed and the reason for your admission, you may not receive the medications you may desire. Behavioral Health Services Staff will always be willing to explain why particular medications have not been prescribed.

Will there be a medical doctor available if I get sick (examples: flu, virus, cold, earache, etc.)?

There is a Nurse Practitioner/Physician’s Assistant available to provide medical care in the a.m. and by pager.

What is the youngest age that is able to be admitted to the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital?

The Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital is certified by the State of Wisconsin to accept individuals with appropriate conditions as young as age 13. Younger individuals when appropriate may be considered for admission to the Youth Crisis Services when available.

Is information about my loved one kept private and confidential?

Patients and staff are required to maintain confidentiality at all times. The information contained in your medical record is confidential. It is a legal requirement that North Central Health Care receive specific authorization prior to releasing this information. Authorization may be granted by completing a Release of Information form (ROI).

Could I or my loved one be arrested for aggressive behavior?

It is rare, but the answer is yes. If a staff is injured, they have the right to press charges.

When do you use restraint and how does that work?

Restraint is not a treatment modality, but a last resort safety intervention when an imminent risk of danger to the individual or others exists. (A copy of the Seclusion and Restraint Philosophy and Policy will be given to the patient and or guardian at their request.)

What is seclusion?

Seclusion is not a treatment modality, but a last step safety intervention utilized to keep patients and others safe when behaviors presented pose an immediate risk of danger.

Do the patients get fresh air and exercise?

Patients may be allowed outside under certain circumstances under the supervision of staff.

What is the usual length of stay at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital?

The average length of stay is two to five days. Your loved one’s plan of care will determine how long he or she stays. The decision to discharge your one will be based upon his/her safety and if she/he can be managed in a less restrictive environment.

Are the patients ever taken off the locked unit? If so, why?

Yes. Those who have earned attended privileges may leave the unit with staff/family supervision.

What is Milieu or Group Therapy?

The milieu is a safe and therapeutic setting which encourages positive change. Milieu means the totality of an environment. Group therapy is a treatment that uses social interactions to examine mental health issues. Group topics are determined by the participant’s needs. Topics may include social skills, coping skills, self-expression, life skills, or anger management.

Does my loved one receive individual therapy?

Mental Health Specialists and nurses may initiate one to one sessions. Mental Health Specialists/Psych Techs and Occupational Therapy assist your loved one with setting daily goals to work on and learning new skills that can help them cope. They will do this in group therapy, recreational and therapeutic activities.

Tell me about the Behavioral Health Care employees…What are their qualifications? Is there always a nurse? Is there always a doctor available?

The nurses at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital are Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who have had training in managing a therapeutic environment. They work directly on the unit and provide your loved one with any needed medical care. Nurses are assigned on a shift-by-shift basis and provide the hour-to-hour care component of the unit.

Mental Health Specialists (Psych Techs), educated about mental illness and therapeutic interventions, work directly on the unit with the patients. These staff members assist your loved one with setting daily goals and learning new skills that can help them cope. Mental Health Specialists/Psych Techs are assigned on a shift-by-shift basis and provide the 24-hour care. There is always a Psychiatrist present or one who will be on-call who can be reached.

If I have questions, whom do I ask?

Direct your questions to your treatment team Charge Nurse and Social Worker during the day hours. Questions during the evening hours should be directed to the Charge Nurse. You are welcome to phone the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital anytime to inquire about your loved one. Call us at 715.848.4331 with any unresolved questions or concerns.

Does the psychiatrist come to the family meeting?

The psychiatrist’s schedule alters on a daily basis and may not be available for family meetings. It is not standard practice for the psychiatrist to attend family meetings.

What is a team or family meeting?

The goal of the family meeting is to gather family perspectives of your loved one’s needs and to involve the family with discharge planning. Your treatment team and social worker attends as does any outpatient provider that may be invited.

When do I get to see and talk to my psychiatrist?

You will meet with the psychiatrist the day following your admission. After the first day you will meet daily with the psychiatrist for assessment and medication management. The doctor's focus is on patient care. Your liaison to the doctor is the nurse care manager.

Who is my attending psychiatrist?

Your medical doctor is a board-certified psychiatrist through the state of WI.

Can Client’s bring pillows, blankets or stuffed toys to the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital?

Blankets and pillows are provided by the North Central Health Care. Staff generally discourage bringing of these items onto the unit for health reasons to the Patients/Clients. If the Client/Patient would benefit from having a specific item with them, the doctor may write an order to allow them to have those items during all or part of their stay in the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital.

Do we need to bring toiletries? If so, what is allowed?

The hospital provides basic toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. You are welcome to bring favorites from home, but staff will check to make sure the items are safe and suitable. Questionable items such as fingernail polish and hair gels are held in a locked storage area. Electric shavers, hair dryers, curling irons, etc., will be approved on a patient-by-patient basis and are also held in locked storage.

Are there snacks and beverages between meals?

Yes, there are scheduled snack times at 10:30 am and 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. You may bring food or snacks for your family member, however no caffeine allowed.

What kind of food do I get?

Individual meal tray service is used at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital. Dietary needs are taken into consideration by the dietician. Upon arrival to the Hospital, the meal trays are obtained by the client/patient from the food delivery cart.

Where and when do we eat?

Meals are scheduled and are served within the Hospital unit. Meal times are 8:00 a.m. breakfast, 12:00 (noon) lunch and 5:30 p.m. for supper.

What about laundry?

Staff can use the washers and dryers in the unit to assist in laundering clothing items.

What kind of things may we bring and are electronic devices allowed?

You should bring an extra supply of clothing, socks and underwear, pajamas, a bathrobe, slippers and shoes. Cell phones, pagers, CD / MP3 players, cameras, hand-held game systems or other electronics are not permitted within the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital.

May I bring my (minor) children into the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital?

Due to the types of illnesses and clients/patients that reside, it is rare that children visit this Hospital, but visits can occur if the staff think the patient is in a good place for it. Please call before making any visit to this Hospital with children.

May the patient make phone calls as well as long distance calls? When? How long?

Yes, patients are allowed to make phone calls during the times listed above. Two long distance phone calls are allowed per day for 10 minutes per call.

May other friends/family members call him/her?

Yes. Other family and friends are allowed to call to talk to the patient at the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital.

May I call?

Yes, you may call the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital. The phone numbers are listed under the directory. The best times to call are between times: 8:00-9:00 a.m., 12:00-1:00 p.m. and 3:00-9:00 p.m. So as to not disturb your loved one’s care, he or she will not be taken out of therapeutic groups unless it is an emergency. You may call the Inpatient Behavioral Health Hospital directly and ask for an alternative time to phone. If group sessions are occurring, phone times may be limited.

When can we visit?

Visiting hours are 5:30-7:00 pm on weekdays and weekends. Special accommodations may be arranged with NCHC staff for situational needs. Families are encouraged to visit routinely.