Masters Thesis

An observational assessment of an institution for mental diseases' response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The novel coronavirus (SARs-COV or COVID-19) pandemic was an unprecedented event in recent human history. Communities, schools, and businesses were forced to make rapid large scale changes in action and policy with little direction or empirical data to rely on. Institutions for mental diseases (IMDs), which provide inpatient care to people with serious mental illnesses, were also forced to make large scale changes to their treatment policies. This natural experiment assessed the effects of changes in treatment policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at Merced Behavioral Center (MBC), a locked IMD, on resident’s showering practices. Resident’s showering practices are an important aspect MBC’s treatment planning; therefore assessing the effects of large scale policy changes on resident’s showering practices may provide useful insights to administrative staff. The results of this natural experiment show that changes in treatment policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at MBC did impact resident’s showering practices, but only for resident’s who smoked cigarettes. It was also found that residents on lower functioning levels showered less when compared to residents on higher functioning levels. No other significant differences were found in the showering practices of any other demographic at MBC.

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