Salem Health Psychiatric Medicine Center

Name of Hospital: Salem Health Psychiatric Medicine Center

City, State/Province, Country: Salem, Oregon, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Comment: I have kind of conflicting opinions about it, plus it’s the only mental hospital I’ve been in, so maybe take what I have to say with a grain of salt. On one hand, the basic situation was pretty good. I’m trans and they were much more respectful of my gender than I expected, though it probably helped that I was mostly passing. (I sure didn’t like having to wear a bracelet with my legal name on it, though; I hid it from the other patients.) They even made an effort to give me a single room, though that may have been more for other patients’ comfort than my own.

Groups were not mandatory but they were Strongly Encouraged. There’s a courtyard you can go out to anytime in daylight, so that’s nice even if it is uniformly white concrete and the windows are almost too high to see out of? I made friends there and we had a good time with the chalk we got. Having ready access to colored pencils and those complicated coloring patterns was a huge plus, it was mostly all there was to do other than TV or socializing but I expect that’s pretty much the norm for mental hospitals.

I could count on seeing my psychiatrist or one of his student/assistant people once or twice every week, too. I can’t speak to how accepting they’d be of noncompliance taking pills, since I was compliant in that regard. They also didn’t strap me down or anything when I started hitting myself which I guess is a plus (they made me take really strong benzos, I think, instead). The food was pretty good too.

On the other hand there was this creepy old man who first tried to come on to me and then stalked me for the next five or six days. When I told the nurses they made some effort to keep him away, but not enough. They said he didn’t know what he was doing because of the language barrier but I can promise he delighted in making me uncomfortable. The staff was pretty ineffectual about it. (Thank god he was so tiny or I would have been terrified probably.)

Also, I didn’t see a social worker at all like they said I would and didn’t make any arrangements at all for when I got out. In fact, I basically tried to kill myself one night and they discharged me the next day saying staying there was probably doing more harm than good at that point. Which, maybe it was, but I ended up back in the ER something like three days later. So, relatively pleasant to be in. (I also heard from multiple patients that the Oregon State Hospital in the same city is much worse, so this is probably your best bet in the area.) Just, not as helpful as it maybe should have been.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Trans girl

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