Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In Memoriam

[Posted by ClinkShrink]

I lost a great officer last week and I'm sad.

Correctional Officer X** was assigned to work in the psychiatric infirmary. He had been there for years and he was good at it. CO ("Correctional Officer") X was build like a sumo wrestler, only bigger. He had a soothing, mellow, story-telling voice like Garrison Keillor. I swear he could have hypnotized a rabid dog with that voice. Whenever any situation came up on the unit that looked like it could have gotten out of control, he was there. If any of my patients got loud during rounds, he'd poke his head in: "You OK in there, doc?" When he moved down the unit it was like watching an ocean swell move toward a tropical beach. But more than his size, his demeanor set the tone for the milieu. He approached patients in a way that made them feel safe.

He was the ideal physician recruiter. Whenever I brought applicants through the unit I'd introduce them to X. "In case you're nervous about working here," I'd tell them. "Don't you worry," X would say. "You come work here, I got your back."

He was a big (pardon the pun) reason why we never needed to use physical restraints.

And now he's gone.

He got promoted to sargeant and moved to a different tier. Gotcha!

But I'm still sad.


**Not his real name. Duh.


Anonymous said...

It's a funny thing you mention. Nothing is more helpful than a CO, and of course, nothing is worse. I was conducting an assessment of a young man who was cuffed, caged, and wearing a spit-bag over his head, floridly psychotic. His white jump-suit was filthy and covered with body fluids. Mid-interview, a tech showed up to take his blood, and the patient was terrified. Suddenly 3 CO's were in the room, surrounding the cage and talking supportively and calmingly; they used the patient's first name, which never happens in prison: "It's 'gonna be OK, M. Hang in there buddy." Having completed the blood draw, the CO's changed his clothes, and brought him water. I was struck by how immaculately manicured the patient's fingernails were; he could never have done it on his own.

Anonymous said...

The above post was foofoo5, by the way

ClinkShrink said...

Skills like that just can't be taught in the training academy. I've seen similar incidents, when the officers recognize a truly ill person and go out of their way to reassure them and make sure they eat. It really does help when a paranoid inmate knows that the officers are there to protect him.