“Thank you ladies for coming, but you have to leave… NOW.
…..THE STATE is visiting our facility today.” Becky, the medical assistant implored through a crack in the nursing home door. Her eyes were pleading, panicky. Her voice was shaky and frightened. I expected to see a giant, slimy, swamp creature with a Georgia state agency badge clipped to his armoured chest plate swallow her whole as she shut the door. Muffled screams and cries of “please don’t!” and “Jesus, help us!” could be heard through the building’s ventilation system.
As we scrambled back to the parking lot, my coworker, Andrea, who’s also an LPN, just shook her head as if she was experiencing déjà vu of the pointless genocide she’d witnessed at the hands of STATE inspectors in the past. I’d been told many times by those in the healthcare community about THE STATE. They make up spooky campfire stories about THE STATE. When their kids are bad, they threaten them with tales of THE STATE, rather than the Boogyman. They experience post traumatic stress disorder of the worst kind after visits from THE STATE. I’m even told that Stateinspectionaphobia is the cause of many worker’s comp claims by hospital and nursing home employees.
Even though I work with many people who’ve survived STATE visits, I can only guess the trauma they endure in one of these inspections. Like prisoners of war, no one wants to talk about it. Sometimes while we’re sitting around the lunch table someone will occasionally mention THE STATE. In unison they all take on the same jaded, knowing look. And then the subject quickly changes to the weather.
My friend Clark, a social worker who I’ve known since college, just went through his yearly STATE inspection. It’s been two months now. He still can’t sit down without wimpering and refuses to stand with his back to anyone. He also wets himself upon clocking in each day. Doctors aren’t sure if he’ll ever be normal again. Wanda, Clark’s counterpart at another institution, blames her violent schitzophrenic episodes on STATE spies who are trying to brainwash her through subliminal messaging in her evaluations.
I may never know exactly what Clark and Wanda and countless others see when they close their eyes at night. My heart aches for them. But I can pray… for them and for the evil STATE inspectors who’ve stolen their innocence. If you’re reading this and you’re newly employed at a healthcare institution, run and hide, before THE STATE visits again.