SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital

Name of Facility: SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Wentzville, MO, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: Awful hospital experience. I willingly admitted myself and my time there ranged from downright terrifying to comically miserable. The staff are rude and unprofessional, most of them seeming as though they’d rather be anywhere else. The atmosphere was dirty and food stains from spills remained on the tables for days at a time.

Group therapy was required, though not particularly constructive seeing as though most everyone was there for different reasons. It was impossible to find a doctor and when you did meet with him, the encounter was short and essentially boiled down to “when am I getting out?” “I don’t know.” “ok.”

During my stay…
– I was refused HRT whilst being told repeatedly that it was the cause of my mental health issues. (When it finally WAS given to me, it was with several pages of printed-out prayers?)
– I was openly discriminated against by the staff for being trans, then threatened with sedation and removal of visitation rights after becoming angry.

I added .5 stars because the weekend staff treated me like a human, which was nice. Other than that, I left feeling worse than I did when I was admitted.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Being transgender.

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

Presbyterian Kaseman

Name of Facility: Presbyterian Kaseman

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Description of Experience: The nurses and techs when I was there were all extremely professional, they would speak to patients with care and sympathy, and everything always ran smoothly. I have been there a few times, and they were always wonderful. They treated everyone with the same respect, and they were gracious about allowing us privacy, and letting us know our individual privileges. The unit psychiatrists were also very good about prescribing medications, talking to all patients individually, and scheduling outpatient care.

On one stay, however, there were issues that came up with one of the social workers. It was threatened that I would not be allowed to return home and that I’d be taken to a homeless shelter, if I continued “bad behavior”. The behavior that got me in trouble was not participating in group and community meetings, and staying in my room. It is fine to want patients to participate, and have them leave their room, but it should not be allowed to yell and threaten them, especially in a behavioral unit.

For that reason, I have not returned to Kaseman, but I would recommend it to other individuals.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Severity of condition, High level of care needed

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2015, 2016

Bodmin Community Hospital – Fletcher Ward

Name of Facility: Bodmin Community Hospital – Fletcher Ward

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Bodmin Cornwall UK

Number of Stars: 1.5

Description of Experience: On arrival I saw that both staff and patients looked terrified but patients more so. One patient I knew from the town where I lived. Other patients I recognised from my stay 3 months earlier. One patient from my first stay was still ill like the last time. They don’t treat any physical health problems here, they don’t even investigate.

The only outside space was the smoking courtyard, a glass box in middle of ward, floor covered with cigarette ends and vomit from the poor lady whose physical condition had worsened. I phoned the police reporting the abuse on the ward. Another patient also phoned, this patient said he was threatened with being killed by staff if he phoned the police again. I was forced to drink a cup of water with medication I wasn’t prescribed in it. I reckon I’m lucky to survive those side effects which they say I didn’t have.

There had been a large outside space but it was closed for landscaping. The courtyard was approximately 3 meters square. The staff liked to be vindictive and ignored patients. Hot drinks were only allowed at set times and provided in large jugs, one of tea and one of hot water.

The only saving grace for this ward was a occupational therapist who tried her best but the culture was bad. All patients were treated with fear and distrust.

I’ve since obtained my medical records relating to this stay I was bowled over by the factually incorrect information. (Me and another patient being over the top polite asking for the courtyard to be opened 10 minutes before 6am were classed as offensive – saying please is offensive?!)

Risk management was centred around aggression not self harm. Chairs which could be thrown removed at night but Christmas Tree had glass bubbles and a long string of electric fairy lights. The Christmas Tree was never removed at night.

The other ward in Cornwall is actually quite good.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I’d complained and have long history of contact with MH services

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): Dec 2016

Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital

Name of Facility: Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital

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

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: I was forced into the Alexian Brothers “school refusal” program during my sophomore year of high school after missing too much school because my parents were keeping me home to hide evidence that I was being physically abused and then claiming that I was the one refusing to go because I was “too anxious” to go to school. One of the biggest red flags is that no one involved in the Alexian Brothers program questioned their version of events. No one asked me what my reasons were for missing school. Furthermore, even though my parents claimed I was skipping school because of anxiety, I was never treated as a patient with anxiety, but was instead essentially treated as a “difficult” child with “behavior problems” who was just refusing to go to school for no reason.

Every kid in the program was constantly belittled by the staff. Our feelings and thoughts didn’t matter. We were continually told that we were the source of problems and upheaval in our families, and if we tried to argue, we were told to shut up.

Patients in my program as well as in others kept “in line” with how the staff wanted us to behave with the threat of being moved to inpatient programs or having their time in the outpatient program extended. Because this was a program for teenagers, we were told we had no rights whatsoever and the staff could decide to do what they wanted with us. For those of us in the “school refusal” program, we were told our parents wouldn’t care because we were so difficult they’d be glad to be rid of us. Police were called on patients who were late or who missed a day of the program, and those patients could be forced into inpatient treatment. Again, we were all teenagers, so most of us were dependent on parents for transportation and it didn’t matter if being late wasn’t our fault.

The most important thing I can say about Alexian Brothers is this: I was not suicidal when I went in. I was suicidal when I came out.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I’m autistic and was being severely abused at home.

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2009

UPMC Altoona

Name of Facility: UPMC Altoona

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States

Number of Stars: 3

Description of Experience: I’ve been voluntarily admitted here once and involuntarily committed three times. The intake process usually takes several hours, and the ER receptionist oftentimes doesn’t treat your situation like an actual emergency, so you can end up sitting in the waiting room for quite a while. After having a urine sample and blood samples taken I always had to wait around in a small room that had nothing in it but a TV, a crappy plastic chair, and a surveillance camera. The crisis worker always takes forever to arrive. One time I went in for having suicidal thoughts but by the time she got there the feeling had completely passed and I realized I never actually had any intention of killing myself. She had me involuntarily committed anyway and I spent the next five days in there feeling perfectly fine aside from having my freedom taken away and I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since.

If you’re put on the unit late at night you don’t get to eat a meal, even if you were just in the ER for five hours. You might get something left over from snack time, but that’s it, and breakfast isn’t until 7:30the next morning. The food is hit-or-miss. The selection is good, but the quality is inconsistent. I was impressed with the mashed potatoes and gravy, the turkey, and with the chicken noodle soup. The iced tea is good too. They set out snacks in the activity rooms at 8 p.m. and they just consist of crackers, those gross peanut butter sandwich cookies that no one ever actually eats, and little ice cream and sherbet cups. My mom was allowed to bring me candy (Skittles and Peeps), but it had to be given to nurses, not directly to me, and it was locked up during the day and only allowed out during snack time. The activity rooms are locked up at 11:00, so if you have insomnia expect to experience extra boredom after that.

You’ll get like an hour in the evening after dinner to have visitors, but visitation has to happen in the activity rooms and guests have to be checked with a metal detector paddle before they’ll be allowed in. They can’t bring cell phones in. The only guests allowed are ones you put on your list.

Every morning a nurse will wake you up ridiculously early to take your blood pressure. Your days will be pretty structured, but free time is scheduled in. There are several groups held every day, but they’re all on pretty general topics like medication management, art therapy, etc. It’s not like serious, deep therapy because patients are in and out all the time and have widely varying diagnoses and reasons for being there. If you don’t attend groups they put in your file that you’re not complying with treatment and then they will keep you in there longer (they usually do the same thing if you refuse to take medication). If I remember correctly, the only group that is optional is the spirituality one, which is just a Christian pastor coming in and trying to convert people, which doesn’t seem completely ethical to me.

There are two activity rooms (a.k.a. day rooms), one on each end of the unit. That’s where groups and meals are held. They have some games, xeroxed coloring book pages with crayons and markers, puzzles that pretty much all have at least one missing piece, and a bunch of mostly bland reading material. They also each have a TV in them, and usually in the evenings they show a movie.

I liked all of the staff except the tall dude with the mustache who was ultra Christian and spent the majority of his time trying to convert people to his particular form of the religion. He was a mental health worker, not a guest preacher or anything. It was very inappropriate and obnoxious. I don’t think he works there anymore though because I didn’t see him at all during my last stay. The fact that he was there for a good while in the first place really rubs me the wrong way though.

You’ll have one brief visit with a psychiatrist usually every weekday. There were three different ones and they were all nice and had insightful things to say.

There are mental health workers and nurses who are available to talk to one-on-one throughout the day, and they’re generally all very nice, but in my experience the staff who work after 11 p.m. aren’t interested in talking much because they’re busy monitoring the unit with less help on hand. Usually you’ll meet with a social worker to plan outpatient treatment and arrange any other sort of accommodations that you’ll need when you get out. Like if you’re struggling with addiction they’ll help transfer you to rehab, if you’re poor and need health insurance they’ll help you apply for Medicaid, etc. You can choose to include family in this meeting. You’ll also meet with the occupational therapy nurse, who is very kind-hearted and positive, but in my experience the one-on-one meetings with her are useless. Her groups are much more productive. The custodians were all very polite and pleasant and they do a great job of keeping the unit clean.

It felt pretty safe in there overall. It was never really chaotic or violent when I was there. I never saw staff act aggressively toward patients, even when patients were very agitated or aggressive themselves. The one complaint I have as far as staff respecting patients’ bodily autonomy was that they force you to give blood samples if you refused to in the ER (which I did when I was experiencing paranoid psychosis because “we need to take your blood” sounded horrifying to me at the time and I already hated needles on top of that). If you refuse in the ER they’ll let you refuse one more time after that. Then they force you. Staff will surround you and hold you during this. I remember crying, screaming, and shaking in terror while clinging to one of the nurses when it happened to me.

You’re not allowed to bring in cell phones or any other electronic devices. No regular writing utensils and no spiral-bound notebooks are permitted, but stubby pencils that have no eraser on them are fine. They have boxes of those in the activity rooms too. Tampons have to be locked up in the nurses’ station and when you need one you have to wait around until a nurse is available to give you one. No clothing with strings is allowed (so no shoestrings, drawstrings, etc.).

If you don’t have any clothes with you they’ll provide pants with not-always-great elastic waistbands, brand-new socks, and gowns (they’ll let you wear two, a front one and a back one so your back and butt don’t ever hang out). Some of the gowns have stains on them. They let you keep the socks. They’ll also give you deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and mouthwash, all of which you get to take with you when you leave. Those things get locked up in the shower rooms and you’re only allowed to have them during shower time and only in the shower rooms. Women who aren’t on suicide watch get to use razors, and they let suicidal women shave too but generally only with supervision. Pretty standard stuff. You’re not allowed to have jewelry and during one of my stays they made me take out my small ear gauges which then grew shut while I was in there.

Patient rooms are plain and cannot be locked, but they’re decent-sized and you get one all to yourself. You’re not allowed to have your door completely closed, and staff comes around regularly to check on you. I think it’s done every 15 minutes. You share a bathroom with the person whose room is next to yours. Thankfully you’re allowed to close the bathroom doors, but they don’t lock, so that’s a bit unnerving. The bathroom mirrors are just a big sheet of metal riveted to the wall and they kind of suck. You’re not allowed to enter the rooms of other patients.

Altoona doesn’t have an adolescent ward so if the nearest one (at Conemaugh Memorial in Johnstown) is full the kids end up in the Altoona adult ward. You’re not really supposed to talk to the kids but people do it anyway and staff often doesn’t care. During one of my stays a 23-year-old male patient started dating a 16-year-old female patient, and they regularly and loudly discussed their intentions to do drugs and get drunk together upon release. They were never hushed or separated, and they sneaked into one of their bathrooms to make out on at least one occasion.

The temperature in the place is usually cold, especially at night, so if you have a chance to pack some clothes or have someone bring some in for you a sweatshirt, hoodie, and/or longsleeved undershirts are a good idea. You should also ask for at least one extra blanket for in your room at night because they’re very thin. Blankets aren’t allowed outside of patient rooms. Requesting an extra pillow is a good idea if you want to be propped up a little better to read comfortably while lying down. You’re allowed to take books into your room. The beds are firm but not overly so.

All in all I would say my experience with this place isn’t really too bad considering how underfunded the hospital is overall. Statistically it’s one of the worst hospitals in the country (Seriously. Google it.) so I was expecting the ward to be terrible. It’s mostly just boring, but the friendliness of the staff helped make up for a lot of the drawbacks. It’s not the worst ward in the area. I would definitely recommend it before I would the ones in Somerset, Johnstown, or Huntingdon.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I’m a butch lesbian and practice a non-Christian minority religion.

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2013, 2014, 2016

Northwell Syosset

Name of Facility: Northwell Syosset

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Syosset, New York, USA

Number of Stars: 2

Description of Experience: I was twice denied a Koran & access to Imam priest. Misdiagnosed as bipolar for being bisexual from close minded family that does not accept me. Am well educated. I never tried to commit suicide. Screamed political complaints at home, annoying conservative cops who put me away for a few weeks to censor protests.

Psych ward is small 20 people & cold but clean with nice aides. No fresh air, dangerous electro-shock, padded quiet room, indoor bicycle, 2 TV in common room with Xbox & DVD player, old books, art room with 2 computers (if you attend group), good food including snack at night.

Besides discrimination & greed, I am concerned that during 2 of my imprisonments they had a possible undercover Muslim guy who was from another city, admitted having a gun which I never. Said he used PCP & tried to get me to do illegal deals. Sounds like entrapment in what should be a medical place.

Wish the hospital would hire a full time talk therapist & spend more than a few minutes with each patient.

Other people complained about Tardive Dyskenesia & diabetes from being over-medicated. I gained 100 pounds from side effects.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Bisexual, Muslim, High Functioning Autism

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2005, 2016

Salt Lake Behavioral Health

Name of Facility: Salt Lake Behavioral Health

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Number of Stars: 3

Description of Experience: I don’t actually expect hospitals to make me better, but I do expect that they don’t make me worse. This hospital hires undereducated techs. The groups are a joke. The worst thing got me is that I was suffering from extreme anxiety and they refused to let me go anywhere but the noisy, crowded day room. When I left my anxiety was worse than it had ever been in my life. A doctor tried to commit me to the state hospital and I was lucky to avoid it. This hospital focuses on nothing but profit.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I was homeless