Sitting With a Baker Act as a Health Unit Coordinator (Video)

We usually see them at the hospital because they are medically unstable, but the patient is a harm to themselves and/or others and they need to have someone with them at all times. Once they are cleared medically, they then are transferred to a facility that is capable of helping them with any mental issues that they are dealing with.

There are multiple reasons why someone would be 'Baker Acted' in Florida: They are violent, Non-Violent, Confused, Suicidal, “Misunderstood” or Physically or Mentally Handicap. The official name is the Florida Mental Health Act but is sometimes called the Baker Act, named after Maxine Baker, a Florida State Representative from Miami.

Some medical facilities require that a security guard stays with the patient, while others have certain employees whose only job is to sit with patients like these.

Bring some materials to read and/or study while the Baker Act is asleep. Asleep is the keyword. If they are awake, you must keep your eyes on them at all times.

Whatever you do, do not fall asleep. Below are two examples of what falling asleep while sitting with Baker Acts can get you.

First story: A Health Unit Coordinator was tasked with sitting with a person who was “Misunderstood”. Before you knew it, the sitter was asleep and the Baker Act took an empty soda bottle, threw it at the sleeping sitter, hitting her in the forehead, waking her up.

Second story: A Health Unit Coordinator was tasked with sitting a person. This time, the sitter put on earphones, propped her feet up and went to sleep. When she was caught, she was fired on the spot.

Bring some nuts to snack on and a soda to drink for the caffeine to keep you awake because sitting for a long period of time is tiring.

Bring an extra sweater in case the room you are in is cold.

Assist to only your ability. Example, if you wouldn't help with pulling a patient up in the bed any other time, then don't start today. Assisting someone from the bed to the chair with minimum assistance is okay. But if it takes three other people to get them from the bed to the chair, then let the nurses and CNAs/PCAs handle that.

If you are required to know CPR, then make sure it is on file, but always be prepared to call for help.

I usually like to know why someone is a Baker Act, so I try to get a quick two sentence report from the off-going sitter. But I don't let that prejudge my opinion of them and I try my best to treat them with respect.

If the person is violent and you fear for your life then you must Speak Up!

First story: A sitter was assigned to sit with a Baker Act, but the patient was very aggressive, so the sitter stood in the doorway of the room, just in case he needed to scream for help or run for his life. They then assigned another Baker Act to that room. As soon as the first patient saw the second patient, he lunged at him and started attacking him. I had to call for security and others to come help.

Second story: During the night shift, the patient wanted the door closed, with the lights and television turned off. That meant that the patient and the sitter would be in the room together in total darkness.

No way, Jose!

2 comments on "Sitting With a Baker Act as a Health Unit Coordinator (Video)"
  1. Should the Sitter sit in the hall by the door, always for a Baker Act

    1. It depends on the patient. If you are told during report that they are violent, then I would sit by the door. As a precaution, you should always sit on the side of the room closest to the door.