72 Hour Hold – Robert G. Wertzler

Dragged from sleep by Pager’s cry
Service says call the ER
They’ve got one for you
Call ER – familiar name
Medically cleared
Go, meet, talk
Ask the questions
Thought, Plan, Means, Intent
Try for a Safe Plan
Try some more., and more
No way
Wishing for a Patient Advocate
Someone to argue the other side
None here – wear both hats
Prosecution and Defense
No, three, Judge too
Serve the Law to serve the person
The Blindfolded Lady puts
Her balance in your hands
It is heavy, very heavy
Translate what the gut says
What the heart hears
Clarify words, deeds, evidence
Make the case – freedom versus risk
Call the Shrink – Staff it
Decision made
Do the paperwork
Call the Unit
Call for transport
Make copies
Wait – sit with The Patient
I know you don’t want to go
I know that place scares you
And we both know you can’t go home
And that my job is to keep you alive
Whether you like it or not.
We’ve been here before, you and I
And likely will again.


Bob Wertzler is retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times the title, “Recovering Therapist”, seems to fit. In 2006 he retired to move to Western North Carolina to help and become primary care giver for his father who had developed Dementia. Before all that, there was work at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things. He relates to a line in a Grateful Dead song, “What a long, strange trip its been.”

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