Beatrice H. Hill (Mrs. Hill is the NRA consultant on hospital
This month, Madison Dunn, recreation
director at Riverside Hospital for Juvenile Drug Addicts, tells
of his recreation program.
Riverside Hospital on North Brother
Island, New York City, is a hospital for adolescent narcotic
users who range from fourteen to twenty-one years of age. Although
most of the 128 patients are boys, similar treatment is given
to both sexes. Its patients come from different types of agencies,
the courts, and through the recommendations of parents. A few
ask to be admitted.
A boy will first be examined by
the doctor, have his clothing checked for concealed drugs, and
then be sent to the withdrawal ward, where he is gradually taken
off the drug by the use of proper medication. He must remain
on this ward for three weeks, during which time he is observed,
interviewed, tested and examined by the psychiatrist, psychologist,
psychiatric social worker, recreational therapist, occupational
therapist, nurse, and the chaplain.
At the end of this time he is brought
to the diagnostic clinic, where staff members compare notes
and decide whether he stays, is sent home or, in some cases,
returned to the court. For those who stay, this is the day when
their clothing is returned and they are accorded the same privileges
as the regular patients.
His daily program includes a half-day
of school, a half-day of work, and regular appointments with
his doctors and other members of the rehabilitation team. As
the entire program is aimed towards the patient’s return
to the community, we in recreation conduct our programs as close
to community-type recreation as possible.
Our program is conducted from 2:45
P.M. to 10:00 P.M. Monday through Friday; 10:00 A.M. to 10:00
P.M. on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays. Some of the activities
are: games, movies, music, dancing, discussion groups, sports,
dramatics, outings, and field trips. The recreation staff has
to be extremely careful not to over-supervise the patient but
still carefully protect him from the dangers of his weakness.
In an effort to reach and understand
the patient, there are several media the recreational therapist
utilizes. One of these is the hospital team. The patient population
is divided into six teams, and members of the staffs of all
departments are assigned to the various teams to handle their
problems and help with their treatment. Each recreational therapist
is responsible to one team and for reporting its progress, keeping
records of the patients, and entering his notes on the medical
When a patient first arrives he
is given an orientation by a member of the recreation department.
Even while he is on withdrawal, recreation of a passive nature
is brought to him.
A Recreation Patient Council, which
consists of two elected representatives of the six teams, meets
each Friday with the medical superintendent, recreational therapist,
and school teacher. Once a week, also, there are separate meetings
for each of the six teams, during which the patients are free
to discuss problems that the recreational therapist may be able
to help solve. Out of these meetings come sound group therapy,
good ideas which can be incorporated into the recreation program
and a chance to talk over health habits and grooming.
Doctors and psychiatrists feel
that the informal non-compulsive type of relationship which
we establish with a patient, in a game or activity, is advantageous
because the patient finds it easier to talk when there is not
the formal “across-the-desk’ type of interview.
We very often are in the favorable position of being able to
report a great deal about how the patient feels regarding people
and life in general. At Riverside, we feel the addiction of
the patient is secondary and the mental maladjustment is the
main factor to be treated. Our youngsters want and need direction.
They must be shown what society expects from them and taught
how to get along with it.