Name of Hospital: University Behavioral Center
City, State/Province, Country: Orlando, FL, USA
Number of Stars: 1
Comment: I was at UBC for 3 days past my Baker Act* and I never imagined that most of the fears I always had about facilities like this could be so real. The staff weren’t trained to talk to patients like people and didn’t treat us like we had an sort of agency. Most of the nurses were very young and the process of requesting the most basic items was made much more difficult than it had to be because of their lack of professionalism. Every time I needed a new pad, I had to wait for one of them to remember I was standing by their desk after they told me to wait for them to finish whatever they were doing (like making personal phone calls and doing their nails behind the desk). These same nurses were the ones that didn’t ask if I was done changing when they walked in on me taking my street clothes off for the routine search. There was even a nurse who everyone knew liked provoking one patient in particular.
We weren’t allowed to go outside for fresh air unless the entire group went and day after day, a nurse’s promise to take us outside went unfulfilled. The psychiatrists were a whole other kind of absurd, though. I noticed that everyone was promised one on one time with a doctor, but nobody was ever given an exact time or even day. Sometimes they would pull you out of group therapy (facilitated by the untrained nurses) to get you to the psychiatrist for 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe most parts of my experience after my psychiatrist refused to take me seriously (for context, I was a Baker Act but not suicidal, homicidal, or self-harming. I hadn’t eaten in 2 days because of my anxiety and someone I had wrongly confided in thought the police would “keep me company”). This is all over the place, but I’ve never really even talked about my experience there.
We didn’t even get bar soap to bathe ourselves and were told to pump hand soap into white paper cups for our showers. We all had to squeeze out this very old looking shampoo and conditioner for washing our hair and, if there wasn’t conditioner immediately available, they gave us hand lotion to use instead. We had roommates and couldn’t ever close our doors, not even to change because that’s what the bathroom was for. If I wanted something to help me sleep because of my snoring roommate, I was given cheap foam earplugs that didn’t help anything. Everyone got one pillow and one blanket to sleep with, so I would take extra towels from the hygiene cart to sleep with because it would get so freezing cold after lights out. As for clothes, we were allowed to do laundry during the day. But it did take two full days before a nurse followed through with me request for a bra. They hardly had any and definitely didn’t have any over a C, so they suggested I not wear one during my stay.
My first day, I had to walk holding the top of my scrubs because they were falling off with how big they were. Shoes were allowed in the unit, but they didn’t give us any and so most people walked around in those hospital socks with slightly padded bottoms (even outside). I should mention that I’m 20 and was placed in the ward with the most “freedom,” even though the next youngest person with me was 28 and everyone else there was detoxing and not explicitly committed for the reasons I was. I always had this idea in my head of being housed with teenagers that were depressed but the program I was in meant I went to a different type of group therapy.
I could go on and on about everything else that was unprofessional and just off about UBC (the food, the religious undertone, the total lack of activities besides group therapy), but it broke my heart to hear every single other person in there with me say something along the lines of, “this is the nicest place I’ve been.” As dirty as it could be and as rude and unbelievable the majority of the staff was, it wasn’t as bad as other local hospitals. I never put in a complaint like the nurses told us to if we had a problem because I never thought anyone bothered to acknowledge them, but I hope someone in Orlando sees this and knows to avoid UBC if they can help it.
Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient
Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Being a woman on her period for the entirety of her stay, I think that made everything a lot more uncomfortable. The nurses made me feel like a burden every time I had to ask for hygiene products but wouldn’t give me more than one at a time. And while I’m not out, a couple of women in my unit were and the way some nurses were passionate their religion made them speak to these women often about God and forgiveness. There were just a couple of nurses who tried incorporating God into everything, but it just confused me about what the facility was meant to do.
*mod note: Florida’s Baker Act is an alternate name for the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, in which physicians, law enforcement, judges, or mental health professionals may have someone involuntarily institutionalized and examined.