Fairmount Behavioral Health

Name of Facility: Fairmount Behavioral Health

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Philadelphia, PA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: I was voluntarily admitted for suicidality. The schedule lists group therapy multiple times a day but we only had actual therapy 3-4 times during my 8-day stay. Half of those times, therapy revolved around the 12-step addiction recovery model, which wasn’t helpful to me and the other patients without a history of addiction. (This was because the therapists were borrowed from the dual diagnosis unit and didn’t adapt their sessions.)

Almost every day a ‘therapy’ session would be held where a psych tech would monologue for 45-75min about what he thought about life. Once I left because he was bemoaning that spanking children was no longer ‘pc’ and insisting that more spanking would improve mental health. Physically harming children is a trigger for me, but I was told by another tech that I couldn’t leave the session. On other occasions the monologue was religious Christian in nature.

They have 2-person rooms divided by gender but the unit is coed. When a male patient verbally sexually harassed me nothing was done about it. Homophobic statements were made to me and a young gay man on the unit, especially after my partner visited. The rooms were okay – you can’t close the door, which is to be expected, and the bathroom was sectioned off by a curtain that ended a few inches below my knees.

I arrived with only the clothes I was wearing, and I was given a wrap-around gown with a loop so it didn’t have ties (no laces or strings on the unit) and I never could figure out how to get it on, so I stayed in those clothes for another day until my partner could bring me more (visiting hours were 3 times a week). Underwire bras were also banned from the unit, and since I need an underwire for adequate support I was frequently in pain.

I spoke to a doctor twice, the day after the night I was admitted and the day before I was discharged. I begged to see the doctor sooner because the new medication was helping and I wanted to leave, but he was rarely on the unit. The medication change was helpful though and I’m still taking that med. The cafeteria staff were also flexible in adapting to my dietary needs.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): Inpatient

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Lesbian Jewish woman

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2017

News Articles on Unity Center for Behavioral Health

Name of Facility: Unity Center for Behavioral Health

Location: Portland, OR, USA

News articles:

OrgeonLive/The Oregonian, “Serious safety problems plague Portland’s premier mental health center, state investigation shows,” August 2018: “State investigators have placed Portland’s premier psychiatric crisis center on notice that it could lose its federal certification as early as next month unless it fixes widespread safety problems that allowed patient harm in repeated cases, including attempted suicide and at least one death from alleged medical neglect. The Oregon Health Authority released a 105-page list of issues at Unity after The Oregonian/OregonLive filed a public records request.”

News Articles on Livonia COPE

Name of Facility: Livonia Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE)

Location: Livonia, MI, USA

News Articles

The Detroit News, “4 charged with abuse at Livonia mental health site,” July 2018: “Four workers at a Livonia psychiatric facility were charged Wednesday in connection with the physical abuse of three male patients at the facility, while a doctor and a nurse were charged with failing to report the abuse.”

The Detroit News, “2 face felony trials in alleged patient abuse,” July 2018: “Dixon and Jackson will be tried on two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, plus misdemeanor charges of third-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult.”

Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center

Name of Facility: Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center

Location: Dix Hills, New York, United States

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: I was here for 4 months, I think it was 2015. I was transferred here from another hospital (Mather), so so so excited it would be beneficial to my treatment. Once I got there, I noticed things were off.

I had to be cleared to go to school like with every hospital, so I sat down on the couch in the mini rec area of the unit and turned on the TV. Soon, a nurse came storming through flipping shit “where the FUCK do you think you are? This is NOT Mather!! You CAN NOT do whatever the fuck you want!!” And grabbed the remote, turned it off, and demanded I asked for it to be turned on again. At that point they moved me to wait in another unit, so for 7 hours everyday I sat staring at the wall in the eating area since I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or even sit where all the books were in this unit.

Also, there was no choices for food. Choice of food sounds like a lot to ask for, but the slop they served us definitely was not above jail food quality. The smell of it would make anyone gag. If someone wasn’t able to manage to swallow this filth, the staff saw it as refusal to eat and sent them to their room where they weren’t allowed to come out for the rest of the day. We quickly learned how to hide inedible food under salad and in milk containers to make it look like we’ve eaten. Every single patient on the unit has done this.

Phone calls. Phone calls to family was a lucky thing. Only one phone call a day, and if that’s a time where family members aren’t available or at work well not their problem. There was a lot of times where the phone didn’t work at all.

ITP. Intensive Treatment Plan (I think it was called). This is where you could’ve done the smallest mundane thing and had all your “privileges” taken away. “Privileges” as in ability to leave your room or even make phone calls over 3 minutes. Pretty much everything was taken away. I had to plead to not get on this “plan” just because I had drawn an ‘anarchy’ symbol on my shoe.

The showers. We had to shower twice a day, even though we went nowhere and pretty much just sat in a room all day. And that wouldn’t be a problem, but the showers and sinks sometimes had maggots crawling out of them.

No therapy what-so-ever. I don’t even remember seeing a therapist weekly, maybe some sort of social worker for 10 or so minutes a week. I remember there only being one therapeutic group my whole time there. The whole time was like some sort of abusive babysitting facility.

This is how mental healthcare is all over this island. It’s all based on “behavior”. As in, you behave good you’re getting better. You behave good, you get more “privileges”. A lot of times they don’t notice mental illness is more than behavior (I was always an obedient child, never even gotten detention in my life). And yet, they treat every child as a disobedient juvenile who has to be taught to “behave”. So many places would have “levels”. You behave, you get up a level. But as I must reiterate, working on mental health is a lot more than just “learning how to be well behaved”

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): Inpatient

Sinai Hospital

Name of Facility: Sinai Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Baltimore, MD, USA

Number of Stars: 2.5

Description of Experience: It was a pretty run of the mill ward. I was in for severe anxiety leading to suicidal distress and a voluntary admit. The emergency department was not very great; they forgot to get my insurance information and when they moved me to the transitional unit they took all my possessions until I was on the ward. Fortunately, I was more prepared than the other time I’d been in an ED and the removal of all possessions happened, but it still sucked.

They let you wear your own clothes on the ward (except I’m assuming stuff like bras with wires). They noticed and did something about my anxiety, which was good, it was a medication I could take as needed (they wouldn’t give me the stuff like Ativan, but something called Vistaril). They didn’t count not going to the groups because I was down and out with bronchitis against me.

After three days with no caffeine I was a bit grumpy with the nurse assigned to me and got a lecture on how if I didn’t control my behavior I’d have to stay longer. I perceived this as coercion and pushed back to ask her “Are you coercing me?” which she seemed offended by. (It was coercion and an exercise of control).

Another time (my second night) I was told you could only make one long-distance call per visit, which I had already made one and was told I could not by a psych specialist or admin assistant. I went back and began sobbing hysterically in my room because my friends are my safety net. It took them at least 10 minutes to bother to go see if I was okay and offer me anything for my anxiety. Most of the nurses/psych specialists besides that one would still let you make as many long distance calls as you wanted. It was just that one who was a stickler to the rule.

They made use of the seclusion rooms a couple of times while I was there. One was an elderly woman and I overheard the nurse telling the security guards the reason she was in there was “because she attacked me, the dumb bitch.” I told another nurse about that statement because it made me really uncomfortable and worried about the woman in the room. Another was a younger woman who apparently broke the door of her room.

They didn’t bother to do anything about the older man who asked me to be his girlfriend and laughed it off because he did it to everyone. I finally had to tell him off myself and he didn’t speak to me again, which was a relief.

There were security cameras everywhere, including in your room. There was basically no privacy – I resorted to changing in the bathroom, which sometimes the toilet was clogged because for some reason the ward always seemed out of toilet paper. The food was chronically late. One time it was almost 2 hours late for breakfast. It wasn’t that great but vaguely edible, and I saw at least one other patient receiving kosher meals – Sinai is a Jewish-affiliated hospital. So I would extrapolate that they at least respect dietary preferences and restrictions.

I didn’t see any preferential treatment based on race, but I could have missed it – I’m white, and a lot of the patients were Black. It definitely seemed at least preferential toward the less “complex” and the “easier” patients like me.

They had a hard time getting my meds sorted out at first, almost until I was about ready to leave, which was a bit ridiculous. Once I was stabilized (and done sleeping off my bronchitis), I was ridiculously bored and finished most of my books I was reading. There were basically a few board games and puzzles, magazines, a TV, and groups, though I can’t speak to the therapy groups as a way to pass time or their therapeutic value.

I didn’t get a whole lot of a discharge planning, either. I wasn’t helped to connect with resources in my area at all except for a print-out of some Jewish social service agencies.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): Inpatient

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Nonbinary (did not disclose), queer, Autistic, Jewish conversion student

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2018

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

Name of Facility: Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Chicago, IL, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: I’ve been to this hospital twice, once in 2014 and again in 2017.

When I was admitted in 2014, I was 17 and a senior in high school, so I was on the adolescent floor. I was admitted for a suicide attempt. The stay mostly consisted of group therapy sessions. The staff facilitating these sessions were extremely unprofessional; in one particular session I was discussing why I was being hospitalized (which had a lot to do with how poorly my high school handled my mental health issues) and I was repeatedly told it was my fault that I was depressed and suicidal to the point where I was sobbing.

I meet with my psychiatrist only twice, once the morning after I was admitted and again about 2 days before I was released to evaluate my mental state. Both meetings were extremely short.

I was admitted again in October 2017, this time as an adult, for suicidal ideation. Despite my bad experience with this hospital before, I returned to Lakeshore because of its LGBT program. This program amounted to absolutely nothing. I requested to be put in one of the rooms designated for the LGBT program but was not, even though the rooms were open. There were no LGBT-specific therapy sessions or groups. I requested to be referred to by certain pronouns, but they hardly, if ever, happened.

The ward was mostly occupied by substance abuse patients. They mental health and substance abuse patients are in separate wings, but there were so many substance abuse patients that they had to be placed in the mental health wing. Most of the group sessions focused on substance abuse. While I understand this completely, it did result in most of my time being spent in the dayroom reading or watching TV.

The sessions I did participate in were fine. Usually it was sitting in a circle in the dayroom and talking. There was an art therapy session that I enjoyed a lot. I wish there were more things like that.

You have to be cleared for most things, including going down to the cafeteria for lunch/dinner (as opposed to it being taken up to you). Unfortunately, your social worker probably won’t get around to that until your stay is basically over. You hardly ever actually see your social worker unless you basically demand it. I had to see my social worker to get things sorted out with my school. I already had a lot on file with my disability resource center, so that was relatively painless.

All in all, this hospital met the bare minimum of not allowing me to kill myself on their watch. It didn’t do too much beyond that.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): inpatient

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Lesbian and non-binary

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2014, 2017

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center

Name of Facility: St Elizabeth’s Medical Center (Brighton)

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Boston, MA, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: At first the hospital seemed professional, but after my first night I realized I had made a horrible mistake coming here.

First off, when I woke up, a psychiatrist misidentified me as my roommate, and then got angry when I told her who I was. There was nothing therapeutic here. Just lots of medication and angry nurses.

Two people filed complaints while I was there. One was because the doctors would not allow the patient to take their prescribed medication, causing them to go through withdrawal.

I watched as patients screamed and cried. All were ignored by the staff. There was no group meetings, no therapy. I saw a psychiatrist for a total of 5 minutes during my stay. They diagnosed me with two disorders I do not have.  Other patients followed me around and corned me into rooms, and grabbed me. The staff did nothing.

As I signed myself out, fearing my own safety, I was threatened to be involuntarily committed. The patients and I were all treated like prisoners. It was so traumatic. I just wanted some help. I did not get any help.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): inpatient

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2017