The economy has depleted the few safety resources our patients have had and this has turned their already chaotic lives inside out. They become desperate with their physical and emotional pain, even more trapped than they once were.
Many patients are on a scheduled monthly narcotic prescription. Often, patients try and get their narcotics a few days, a week early. Is their pain so uncontrolled this month that they needed to use more medication? Or are they wanting it early to get some extra to sell? Often patients lie about stolen or lost narcotics in order to get more oxycodone (percocet) that they can sell on the street. At times my job has been turned into a detective, such as asking to see police reports for stolen prescriptions and sometimes finally busting them for their lies. Many of our patients surround themselves with others as desperate as they are and so I believe some stolen narcotic stories. Others just don't make sense. On occasions when someone is caught in a flat out lie, we don't get the police involved. We tell them we can treat them for their medical problems but they can no longer get their narcotic prescriptions through our group of clinics. It's time consuming and tiresome for the staff.
We are seeing more depression and suicide attempts, more anger and volatility, more illness. I don't feel as emotionally or physically safe there as I once did. I believe some patients are a step away from pulling out a gun and using it. Our former security guard was very good. He had a strong presence and good intuition. He even patrolled around the clinic and asked people doing illegal activity to leave. Our staff felt safe with him there. He took the bus to work and started receiving threats from those who recognized him on the bus. I don't think they were our patients, but rather those he'd been keeping his eye on outside the clinic. So he quit. The security guard we've had for almost a year wants to be earnest and is a nice guy but having him as a security guard is a joke. He's about 5'4" and is terrified to approach anyone. When he's needed, he doesn't know what to do and has come to me for direction. I have often seen him asleep in the lunch room. Stories about him and others to come.