Overcrowded and Understaffed, but Springfield Hospital Is Doing “Remarkable Job”

August 1, 1968

By Carolyn H. Nord

Recently Springfield State Hospital has received some harsh and misleading publicity as to how the nurses and doctors care for patients at this local institution. Staff members object to the attitudes and impressions given by one of the large daily papers in particular.

Director of nursing Richard Bolin found the report damaging to the morale of his staff. Already worked to and beyond capacity, the staff finds their work even harder when public attitudes are raised against them.

The nursing staff, as the other departments at Springfield, is understaffed, but the people there are dedicated. There has been a traditional esprit de corps in the staff.

Springfield is overcrowded, understaffed, but in general doing a remarkable job. This hospital has an advantage that belongs to the community. It has many local people, families who have been and still are working here. “The morale at Springfield is the best in the state,” observed Dr. Irene Hitchman, director of hospital inspection and licensure from the Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene.

Dr. Hitchman is well qualified to evaluate Springfield as she spent twenty-one years there, eight of those years as clinical director, before assuming her present post with the Department of Mental Hygiene.

Springfield State Hospital presents a tremendous challenge to its staff. It does not say NO to an admission, as general and private hospitals do. About 3600 new patients are admitted each year, some of whom belong in nursing homes or at community health facilities. The hospital will be in real trouble if it cannot discharge SATISFACTORILY  enough patients to meet the influx of new ones.

New staff members are taught to regard patients in the same manner that they would want members of their own families treated if they were patients.

“From the instant of their arrival as human beings in need of hospitalization in the course of their illnesses, they are regarded as patients in the medical fullness of that classification of humanity, and every contact with them is regarded as an opportunity to make of it a therapeutic gesture.” This is the primary philosophy of Springfield.

Because of staff shortages, psychiatric nurses must do total housekeeping and food services in some wards. Despite these extra burdens, the excellence of their care is demonstrated by the most custodial patients being clean and free from bed sores.

A salary increase last summer has helped to decrease the turnover in personnel, but vital jobs in food service and attendants need more people, assistant superintendent Leonard Albert explained.

Springfield Hospital is open to the public to see it in operation. Neither the administration nor personnel try to hide any part of it. Some wards are dismal, overcrowded basements, but the valiant staff strives to treat each patient as an individual human being even in these surroundings.

These situations demonstrate the desperate need for new housing for the patients and greater staff expansion to give more personal care. Few citizens would want to find themselves or members of their families in the dingy storage rooms. All this needs a greater budget.

In any facility as large as Springfield State Hospital, accidents are bound to happen. Hospital Superintendent, Dr. Jess Cohn explained that employees are responsible for (the rest of the article was not scanned and will be provided later.)…


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