In Health

Victor P Taffa

For the second time in my life some people in both the New South Wales (NSW) Labor Party and NSW Police have overseen my forced hospitalisation in the Parkview Unit, Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital, North Ryde, Sydney.

Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital 2010

Friday 26 March 2010

On Friday 26 March 2010 as per usual I went to the Post Office at Meadowbank to check to see if there was any mail in my P.O. Box. After leaving the Post Office I went grocery shopping at Woolworth’s Supermarket in the Macquarie Shopping Centre, North Ryde.

Upon arriving at home the groceries were unpacked and then I began to iron some clothes. At about 3.30pm there was a knock at the door. It was not apparent at this stage however had I not gone to Macquarie Centre to buy groceries the Ryde Community Mental Health Service and New South Wales Police would have admitted me earlier in the day. People knew that I went to the Post Office on a Friday and had not counted on me going to buy groceries. The value of my grocery bill exceeded $100.00 and much of the fresh fruit & vegetables went into the garbage bin.

Waiting outside was the Ryde Community team and three Police Officers to take me to Macquarie Hospital. The team and Police entered my home and they advised me that I would be taken away. I had to beg them to let me turn off the iron and lock my home.

Before leaving I took my business cards with me and as I was walking down the driveway one of the Police Officers remarked “There is not a website address on this, they are only email addresses.” When someone does not have to pay for business cards themselves it is easy to be critical. It was hardly a time for small talk. Another Police Officer remarked “Hurry up I’ve got a paedophile at Pennant Hills to arrest and put in handcuffs.”

At this stage I was conned into believing that I would only be going to Ryde Hospital for a short visit. Upon arrival at the Emergency Department (ED) at Ryde Hospital I learned that on my admitting papers was that “I refused to take medication.”

Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) had signed a court order so the Ryde Community Mental Health Service could hospitalise me.

While in Ryde Hospital ED my mother stayed out in the waiting room after seeing me initially in bed. After a while I asked to see mum and Nursing Staff told me that “she went home.” This turned out to be a lie and simply infuriated mum and myself.

The staff told me that I would be going to Macquarie Hospital when there was a bed available. After waiting in ED for what seemed hours I rang my parents to advise them of my predicament. My parents as usual were supportive and my mother Margaret became distraught. After many hours I was taken to Macquarie Hospital and only after a bed became available.

As the Parkview Unit is an acute care ward I had was not allowed to wear shoe laces or a trousers belt. The Parkview Unit has a method of grouping or categorising patients.

  • Group 1 Close Observation.
  • Group 2 Observation every 10-15 minutes.
  • Group 3 Patients can access the front lobby, exercise bike, pool table, drink & snack machine, T.V. etc…
  • Group 3 Escorted leave with your doctor’s permission.
  • Group 4 Unescorted leave with your doctor’s permission.

Initially I was placed in Group 2 and later placed into Groups 3 & 4.

Saturday 27 March 2010

On Saturday 27 March I awoke and requested that I be given my HIV medication. Given that I was accused of NOT taking medication this in itself was a bit rich. My parents went to my home and brought my medication into Hospital.

Nursing Staff were rude more often than not. Nurse Robert* snapped at me at the 6pm meal time and said: “Stand in line like everyone else.” I was merely waiting for someone else to come past me before queuing for my meal.

Sunday 28 March 2010

I pointed out to Nursing Staff that there was two different dates on medication that I had paid for and brought into the Hospital. On 5 March 2010 I paid for new medication at the RNSH Pharmacy.

During 2007 while hospitalised at Ryde Hospital Nursing Staff withheld my HIV medication that I paid for and brought in. Requests from my sister Catherine for the medication also fell on deaf ears.

Various excuses have been used at having to ask for HIV medication. Even the very need to stress HIV is discrimination by Nursing Staff and Doctors.

  • HIV Medication is specialised.”
  • “We’ve run out.”
  • “We will wait until your condition improves.”

Some of the other comments made directly to me by Nursing Staff and Doctors included:

  • “Barry O’ Farrell MP doesn’t like you.”
  • “We are concerned that you are harm to yourself or others.”
  • “You have delusions of grandeur.”
  • “Your mood is elevated.”

All of these comments are designed to ‘wind you up’ and has nothing to do with rehabilitation. These comments were repeated and ensured that my hospitalisation was extended as long as possible.

Nurse Maureen* would later remark that my medical notes from 2003 and in 2010 were virtually identical. I was in Macquarie Hospital in 2003 for 11 days. My stay in 2010 has been in excess of 6 weeks.

Monday 29 March 2010

In the morning I had to again request that the Hospital give me my HIV medication. There were two doctors who had primary care at Macquarie Hospital. I met with the Doctors and was asked about:

  • Education qualifications?
  • Earning capacity for The Southern Thunderer?
  • What was www.isput.com.au about?
  • Am I a risk to myself or others?
  • Do you take your medication?

While these are standard questions for the second time in my life my privacy would be invaded.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Under the NSW Mental Health Act 2007 patients are admitted voluntarily or involuntarily. In 2003 I was admitted against my will and the second admission in 2010 was also on an involuntary basis. As an involuntary patient I attended with Doctors’ and my parents to a Magistrates hearing in a room at the Hospital. Having never experienced a Mental Health hearing I was unsure of procedures. I asked for and received representation from the NSW Legal Aid service. The Magistrate granted a 2 week adjournment during which time I MAY be discharged. This took the time in Macquarie Hospital to Tuesday 13 April 2010. This so happened to be my 45th birthday.

After the hearing I went to my room. I asked to see mum and Nursing Staff replied: “She went home.” This was a lie again.

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Mum rang the Hospital to speak to me and she was told “that the number she dialled was incorrect.”

The area where patient medication is dispensed from patients has a window at which you stand. The patient list was dated 10 January 1900. This date was written on the list more than once. The Hospital sought perfection from me and clearly the system is far from perfect.

Thursday 1 April 2010-Holy Thursday

Today a blood test was taken from me. Normally blood tests are inconsequential however they indicate if a patient has been taking medication. As was argued in depth the blood test taken had indicated that I was taking medication.

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The question I was asked:

During the time that you were not taking HIV medication did this impair your thinking or mental capacity? 

The answer was NO because I had a Cryptococcal reading of 2 for the best part of 12 months. On some occasions a blood test reading for Cryptococcal was not requested by Doctors’ at RNSH. Royal North Shore Hospital had already ruled out making me have a sixth MRI.

When my HIV Viral Load went up to 520 in March 2009 it was because I had vomited on the day of the blood test. In December 2009 I did not attend a consultation at RNSH and this was held against me. I was made to feel ‘uncomfortable’ at the September 2009 consultation with RNSH.

Today I had to prompt Doctors to test for Cryptococcal. I was brought to Macquarie Hospital because I was accused of NOT taking medication and that HIV was impacting on my mental state.

Given the circumstances that I was brought to Macquarie Hospital one of the patients told me that “They took one man off to Hospital and he left with a roast in the oven. He was gone for 2 months and ended up with a $600.00 Bill.”

Friday 2 April 2010-Good Friday

Nurse Robert* rudely interrupted me while talking to another patient. We were discussing religion and God and Nurse Robert said: “Is everything all right over there?” Nurse Robert* said when I passed wind: “You should go to the bathroom next time you do that and don’t be so rude.”

Given that I was brought into Hospital for not taking HIV medication and yelling at people there was repeated requests to get me to take Bactrim. RNSH had stopped Bactrim in late 2007 and this ongoing questioning led to tension and extended my hospitalisation unnecessarily.

Saturday 3 April 2010-Easter Saturday

Again I had to request Nursing Staff to give me my medication. The Health system is biased against people with HIV as medication is not available everywhere. The excuse that “It is expensive” is not an argument that stands up because the Federal Government subsidises a lot of medication through the PBS. Today I came to the view that the Medicare Levy should be increased to fund medical research for all illnesses. According to reliably informed sources within the Health Department the NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt “will NOT provide funding to improve Hornsby Hospital.”

A patient asked me: “What does Easter Sunday mean?” to which my mind turned to the Profession of Faith and how my faith in God runs deep.

Sunday 4 April 2010-Easter Sunday

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Comprehensive psychological testing was conducted on me for Literacy and Numeracy.

Nurses Sam* and Robert* would not let me use the telephone. “You can only use the phone twice a day.” While other Nurses mentioned only “Once per shift.” This formed part of the ongoing ‘Punishment’ that all patients have to contend with in Mental Hospitals. Considering I was admitted on an ‘involuntary’ basis these small minded games only served to extend my hospitalisation.

Patient Nancy* was Maltese and like all good wogs, had a ‘loud’ voice like myself. Her worst offences were to interrupt people and speak loudly.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Doctors met with me and my parents. Doctors wanted to interview my parents separately to according to a Social Worker “Get all the Goss” on a patient. This is another reason why Parents should not be involved in a Mental Health patients discharge or care. Doctors told me today that “I would be discharged within three weeks.” On that advice I made an appointment to see a Doctor for HIV on the day after the expiry of the three weeks. This advice was a lie and designed to falsely raise hope of discharge. This again highlights how absolutely woeful Mental Health is treated in New South Wales.

Today I had to have blood re-tested because the Hospital “Used the wrong tubes.” Since 2007 I have had so many blood tests that this comment was typical of an imperfect system attempting to impose perfection on a person who was being held against his will.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Doctors’ asked if I wanted to have an MRI. I declined as I had already had 5 MRI’s and the Cryptococcal reading was 2 which indicated that HIV was not adversely impacting on my brain. The Doctors’ replied: “We only wanted to do that because you asked for Cryptococcal to be tested.”

This comment was either a joke or simply showed how RNSH, Ryde Hospital, Ryde Community Mental Service and Macquarie Hospital know or cared about HIV and its impact with Mental Health. The level of amateurism could not have been more pronounced. Doctors’ told me that they would seek another 2 week adjournment.

Doctors’ remarked that I could have leave. I said that I could go home and write in The Southern Thunderer to which the Doctor replied: “That wouldn’t be wise.”

Saturday 10 April 2010

Nurse Cathleen* stood over me to make sure that I took my medication. I asked for some peanut butter in a nice tone and I was castigated for that.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Patient Darren* along with Patient Tina* are Inebriates Patients of whom should be in Inebriates Wards in General Hospitals. According Nursing staff there is 200 beds in the Ryde area for Mental Hospitals and in the last 12 months alone 5% of those beds are taken up with Inebriates Patients. Nursing staff have also remarked that it is easier to detain people under the Inebriates Act rather than have people charged under the Drunk & Disorderly Act or the Public Nuisances Act.

Patient Darren* who in his mid 30’s said “I’ve been on a pension since I was 16.” From what I could work out Darren* comes from a ‘broken home.’ He was staying with his auntie however his relatives admitted him. There are Darren’s* everywhere throughout Australia in 2010 because the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) destroyed the family unit.

Having experienced firsthand the Mental Health system in New South Wales that the Mental Health Act is either ignored by Doctors’ and Nurses or only ‘lip service’ paid to its adherence.

Monday 12 April 2010

Doctors’ met with me and will seek a further 2 week adjournment. Legal Aid visited me ahead of proceedings.

Doctors’ told my mother via telephone that the Hospital wanted a 4 week adjournment.

When Legal Aid visited the Doctor told Legal Aid that the Hospital will seek a 5 week adjournment.

Tuesday 13 April 2010 My Birthday.

There was a Magistrates hearing and with a vigorous defence of my case the Magistrate handed down a 5 week order. The Magistrate set a maximum time although I could be discharged before Tuesday 18 May 2010.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

During the 1.00pm luncheon Patient Patrick* said to me directly and out of the blue “I could get a needlestick injury from you and die.” Nurse Elizabeth* observed the remark and said nothing in my defence.

A few days earlier Patient Patrick* commented while we were playing a game of Pool “That was a Spastic shot.” I took offence at this remark even though he was referring to his poor shot in the game. Even when I was growing up and living with my brother and sisters I always took offence at this comment.

Friday 16 April 2010

Upon returning from leave with my mother Nurse Elizabeth* snatched out of my hands some plastic bags as she either had a permanent chip on her shoulder or sought to rile me. This episode was interesting because when I was brought into Hospital my personal possessions were placed in a safe cupboard and no list of my items was made out. Patient Jack* had his possessions listed as did many others. Once again the inconsistencies of the Hospital showed through. For the record I am a fourth generation Australian of Lebanese descent.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Patient Pauline* wanders into my room and interferes with my personal items.

Doctors’ discussed having a Community Treatment Order (CTO) set for Thursday 6 May 2010. After more than 3 weeks of incarceration I was sick of Macquarie Hospital. Doctors’ would allow extended leave from Wednesday 21 April 2010.

Monday 19 April 2010

Again I had to prompt Nursing staff for my medication.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Doctors’ met with myself and my parents and cast dispersions upon having a Private Psychiatrist treating me. The Mental Health Act does not recognise Private practitioners.

Friday 23 April 2010

After I agreed to have a CTO I was granted extended leave. In the real world the way in which the matters are put to you are what you would call blackmail. Hence punishment is the only form of rehabilitation in a New South Wales Psychiatric Hospital.

In the evening two staff from the Ryde Community Mental Health Team visited me and watched me consume my medication. This might seem harmless enough except that you still are not discharged from hospital. If you had a broken arm or leg the problem is obvious. With Mental Health people cannot see inside a broken head and the very manner in which people are treated is prehistoric. This in turn hampers recovery from a mental illness.

Sunday 25 April 2010-Anzac Day

Wednesday 28 May 2010

Today I returned to Macquarie Hospital and was given extended leave by Doctors’. According to Doctors’ there are two types of Bipolar Disorder. This illness used to be known as Manic Depressive.

  • Type 1 Severe Bipolar Disorder
  • Type 2 Hypomania

Doctors’ advised me that I have type 1.

Friday 30 April 2010

As I was on extended leave I continued publishing articles in The Southern Thunderer. I spoke with my current I.T person who manages both www.southernthunderer.com.au and www.isput.com.au

The I.T person seemed hesitant to help me despite having payed monies to maintain my websites. This constant interference with the five I.T people by some people in the NSW Labor Party and Police led to my hospitalisation at Macquarie Hospital. The times when I was not on appropriate medication for Bipolar Disorder was when I was unable to handle the pressure that people put me under. Considering that there is stigma in society towards mental illness it is no surprise that I have twice been in a Psychiatric Hospital.

Monday 3 May 2010

Doctors’ advised me that my CTO Hearing would be put back to 13 May 2010. Later on I visited my G.P. for a Flu Vaccine shot. Rather than not caring about my health this simply highlighted that I do take care of my health.

In the evening the Ryde Community Mental Health Team left my medication for the next morning with me and allowed me to take the medication unsupervised.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Doctors’ want me and my parents to meet on 6 May. The Doctor said “Victor you are being difficult to deal with and we are seriously thinking about readmitting you to Hospital.” I replied that I would agree to the Hospitals blackmail and come to the meeting.

Thursday 6 May 2010

My parents and I met with Doctors’ and we were formally advised that the CTO Hearing had been put back to 13 May 2010.

As the Ryde Community Mental Health Team was ‘scared’ at my tone of voice and of my dislike to being supervised to take my HIV medication I would have to go to the Community Team twice a day. The Ryde Community Mental Health Team was only opened from Monday to Friday. On the weekends I had to visit the Emergency Department of Ryde Hospital to then waste the ED Staff time and call the Mental Health Team.

When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks about a pathetic Federal takeover of Hospitals the unnecessary visits to Emergency Departments will not be addressed by a new Health Commission and Federal control.

Friday 7 May 2010

Doctors’ wanted to see myself and my parents on Monday 10 May 2010.

Monday 10 May 2010

Doctors’ granted me extended leave until the CTO Hearing on 13 May.

They also asked if “I would like to stay in the Hospital voluntarily until the Hearing.” I could not believe that these so called Doctors’ would be dumb enough to ask me such a question. I politely declined the invitation.

Given that I was brought to Macquarie Hospital because of

  • NOT taking HIV medication
  • Yelling at people

I visited my G.P. to pick up a repeat prescription for medication so I will not run out upon discharge.

Thursday 13 May 2010-CTO Hearing

Doctors’ told me that Legal Aid was going to meet with me at 10.30am. An earlier hearing took 3 hours and so my mother and I saw Legal Aid at 12.50pm.

The hearing got underway and it was alleged by the Ryde Community Mental Health Service that RNSH said “That about 12 months ago we were concerned about you.” I said at the Hearing “That would have been about in March 2009 and I made mention that I was seeing Albion Street Clinic for Mental Health consultations and did not wish to see someone at RNSH as well.”

The person that I spoke to at the time was a registrar psychologist who was moving onto another part of his medical training. During the hearing I said that I was only off HIV medication for a few weeks. RNSH, Ryde, Macquarie Hospitals and Ryde Community Mental Health Service seem to think that they ‘own’ you and do not recognise private practitioners’ as a valid path of treatment and healthcare.

The hearing proceeded and I successfully moved to have some parts of the CTO deleted. The person in charge of the Hearing agreed and I was discharged at approximately 1.30pm.

When a person is hospitalised for a broken arm or leg the patient is given discharge papers and if required discharge medication.

Upon discharge in 2003 and in 2010 both discharge papers and discharge medication were not available. In 2010 I had to go to three different pharmacies for Diflucan because discharge medication is not readily available.

Since 23 April I have been supervised while taking my medication and this will cease after seeing a Psychiatrist at the Ryde Community Mental Health Service on Friday 21 May 2010.

Mental Health and all mentally ill patients are discriminated against especially if you also have HIV. Emphasise in Mental Health is that Court Hearings, Tribunals, Magistrates and discharge papers and medication are not readily available. References are made to ‘Delegates’ in a CTO.

All this process merely reinforces and compounds the stigma in society against those with a mental illness.

With ‘Normal’ illnesses discharge papers and medication are handled in a professional manner and readily available.

The CTO that was made out for me is as follows:

 

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 1

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 1

 

 

 

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 2

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 2

 

 

 

 

 

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 3

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 3

 

 

 

 

 

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 4

Community Treatment Plan 13 May 2010 Page 4

 

 

 

13 April 1965

Why do people suffer from mental illness? Why doesn’t anyone else suffer from mental illness in my family apart from me?

On 13 April 1965 I was born and on 12 March 1965 my mother while pregnant with me suffered ‘nervous shock’ upon hearing of the death of my uncle.

Victor Phillip Taffa suffered a massive heart attack and died aged 44 years. Victor was a large man and ate heartily. His cholesterol would have been high and in 1965 cholesterol was something that you put in your car.

The Rudd Government instead of trying for a ‘power grab’ of Hospitals’ should increase the Medicare Levy to 2.5% and fund medical research for all illnesses.

There are a number of other issues that require discussion relating to some people in society and Mental Health.

Had I never contested Public elections it is highly unlikely that I would ever have been placed in a Psychiatric Hospital. It is obvious that some people in both the NSW Labor Party and NSW Police are bigoted, racist and homophobic against me personally. In a perfect world everyone likes everybody. Had Sir Winston Churchill been locked up in a Psychiatric Hospital Great Britain would never have won World War II.

When the history of the NSW Labor Government from 1995-2011 is written it will be noted for only two achievements: Placing Victor P Taffa in Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital in 2003 and 2010.

*Name changed to protect true identity

Definitions:

HIV Viral Load: The amount of HIV virus.

CD4 Count: The amount of Red Blood Cells.

Cryptococcal: HIV related infection on the left side of my brain.

Parony Chia: HIV related infection on the right side of the right big toe. (Pronounced Paranickia)

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