J.C. Blair Hospital

Name of Hospital: J.C. Blair Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: I was involuntarily institutionalized during college for self-injury. No one notified my parents or friends for the first 24 hours. The college was notified at the time.

Clothing was completely confiscated and had to be “earned” back by answering “correctly” on daily psych evals – basically if you described how you were feeling using “positive” words like “hopeful” or “self-confident” you could get clothing back but if you said “sad” or “stressed” you had to stay in a hospital gown.

There were no activities other than daily group therapy sessions. I did all the homework I’d brought from school in the first day. The therapist was unavailable so all therapy sessions were conducted by nurses. A nurse told me that the way to “get over” my eating disorder was to “eat normally” and “not get fat”. Staff did not notice that I subsequently got other patients to eat my meals.

Group therapy was the only type of therapy in spite of the fact that everyone on the ward had drastically different reasons for being there (PTSD, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, anger management, etc). This made it incredibly difficult to address specific issues or complaints.

We were not allowed to be unobservable unless in the shower or bathroom, meaning we had to sleep with the doors of our rooms open. We were not allowed to go into each other’s rooms to talk. All talking had to be done in the common areas.

I quickly realize the way to get out was to lie and tell staff I was doing well and give consistently “positive” answers on evals. After five days I told staff I thought I could be discharged. They said okay. I was given my personal belongings and told to leave. I walked out of the hospital by myself and back to college, because no arrangements were made for transportation or follow-up. I then signed up for counselling through the college because none of my actual mental health needs had been addressed.

I remain terrified of inpatient programs and do not think I could ever willingly go inpatient ever again.

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

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

Year(s) : 2008

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