Miriam Karlins (Part 3)

Former Official of the Dept. of Public Welfare, who worked with Medical Director, David Vail, to eliminate dehumanizing practices in State Institutions

(Run time 2:07)

Once a month we met in the central office to try to look at them [humane practices surveys] to see which ones were unique to hospitals and which ones were systemic so that we could approach them and attempt to solve them. We set up what we called a ward living conditions survey.

We didn't compare them with other wards or other hospitals only with themselves so there was an incentive for self-improvement. We established patient's rights, long before it became a national trend. We established hospital review boards, set up of a psychiatrist, a lawyer, and a lay person for each hospital and we set that up by legislation. That was a legislated act. They would meet once a month, and patients would register any complaint they wanted to with the board.

It was amazing to see the changes that occurred as a result of those circumstances and the kinds of self criticism that the staff were willing to indulge in in order to improve their ward living condition's survey score the next time we came out. They brought in their own furniture and plants and things of that sort. Made sure that there was always plenty of the kinds of soaps and toilet facilities that were needed, and so on and so on. Those were just physical things. But in addition, we built in things that had to do with making sure not only there was an individualized treatment plan going on for each patient.