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

The Pavilion at Williamsburg Place

Name of Facility: The Pavilion at Williamsburg Place

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Williamsburg, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: The doctor who was assigned to my care was very rude to me, he kept me hospitalized for about 23 days, which was therapeutically unnecessary. It is my opinion that the psychiatrist assigned to my care was milking the insurance company. The staff treated me as if I had inconvenienced them by being there. The nursing staff was very short in their conversation with me and when I complained of being assaulted, I was told that it never happened and that it was unfounded.

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

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

Bellevue Hospital

Name of Facility: Bellevue Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Manhattan, NY, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: Let me start by saying my experiences outpatient, non psych, were always very good at Bellevue. But inpatient psych is a neverending nightmare.

There is no respect for the patient as a human being with autonomy. I checked myself in voluntarily, but as soon as I walked in they made it involuntary, which is standard. Then the nightmare began. It took about 4 hours to get to the first interview. Then I was in another area for another six hours. It was freezing cold and there was just a vinyl couch and you could have a sheet for warmth.

Once they brought me into the actual observation area, it took THREE DAYS before they placed me in a ward. Three days with bright fluorescent lights that never turned off. On cots in the hallway with nothing to do- thank God I brought books. I had brought my medication but they took it away. I needed it at 7 PM but they kept saying the doctor was coming to talk to me. I asked about every hour for my medication. It really really messes me up to not take it. By 3 AM I really was crazy, screaming for my meds. Finally at 4 AM new staff came on who told me the doctor had gone home at ten. The previous staff had just been lying.

A pattern I saw at Bellevue was that they wanted to give you the opposite of what you wanted. For instance, I could not sleep and wanted to. The next cot over, the woman did not want to sleep. They forced her to sleep with an injection of Haldol. I begged for one as well, and they refused.

Once I got to the ward I was put in a room with a roommate. Thank God mine was really nice. A person addicted to coke who had tried to commit suicide, ours was an unlikely friendship, but there were so few people there capable of rational discourse it was a godsend that we were together.

The staff had the hobby of setting people off. I was not sure if I was right about this till my nurse sister did a three month tour of another much better psych ward, and was shocked by the sadism.

First of all, THERE WAS ZERO THERAPY. Yep. None. It was a holding tank. Second, you could NOT see a doctor. There was a psychiatrist who would come in at a run and race through the unit once a day, as we all ran and tried to ask our questions~ when can I leave? My meds are wrong? Etc. He slammed the door in our faces. It must have been a requirement that he physically enter the space, which he did for less than 5 minutes. I was trying and trying to get his attention about my meds and he would not talk to me. I finally got so frustrated I sat down and started hitting my head against the wall behind me. I was carried to my room and he actually came in. He said if I was going to act like that, no wonder he would not see me. I said actually it worked the other way.

My sister, a nurse, visited me after three days. She saw me and ran out and I heard her screaming WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SISTER?!?!? They had drugged me so I could barely talk. Turned out they were mixing up my day vs night meds. She got that fixed.

Meds were humiliating. When it was time for meds, we each had to stand at our room doorways. We were not allowed to sit on the floor. We were not allowed to move our chair to the doorway. We just had to stand and wait. This was about an hour and a half twice a day. When they made a mistake with my meds they would not review with me. They simply refused to give me any of my meds and wrote that I had refused. They started me on Risperdal without my permission, and I have not been able to get off of it since.

After that roommate went, I made friends with the only other intelligent life force in the ward. He was a punk rocker with a long Mohawk and lots of tats. Again IRL we had nothing in common but you cling to the humanity you find, and we talked and talked. The staff hated this. They hated him. Well, they hated all of us, but hated him vehemently. They would try to separate us from talking to each other, for no reason. I do not recall what they gave as an excuse, but they forbade us to talk in the common area. We were not allowed in each others rooms of course, so there was just the hallway to talk in, outside my room. Again we were not allowed to sit on the floor or bring the chairs out.

One time we had sat down and a custodian came through and made a racial comment to the rocker. He and I screamed back at the man. The staff came and several of them closed in on him and gave him a shot he did not want, to calm him down; and basically carried him away. I needed something to calm me down. They refused, even though it was on my chart to give me ativan as requested. Another example of doing the opposite of what patients want. I begged for hours. They gave me some six hours later.

The outdoors access was a space on the roof with a basketball hoop and a picnic table. It was enclosed in chain link fence which covered the top, too, like an aviary. If we were “good” we could go out for 20 minutes three times a week. I started to climb on the chain link fence- what else was there to do- and they did not let me out again.

My sister brought me some purple nail polish and they let her put it on me (she could not leave the glass bottle). Then my punk rocker friend wanted it too, but as my sister was putting it on his three inch nails, the staff made her stop. It was not appropriate. No reason.

After a week the doctor told me I was to go home. I knew I was still not safe. He had barely spoken to me but he decided I was able to leave. Then my boyfriend asked me to go to Europe with him. So I wanted to go. Suddenly the doctor changed his tune and said I had to stay. Always trying to make patients as unhappy as possible. I thought I was going to have to sue for my freedom. My outpatient psychiatrist afterwards told me there had been a big debate on whether I should be allowed to go to Europe. NOT whether I would be healthy or safe. Whether I DESERVED to.

Why doesn’t anyone have oversight about psych wards? Some agency needs to pro-actively come in with questionnaires for everyone; and there should be good patient advocates. Why do they allow psych wards to have no treatment? What other medical condition can you go inpatient with and receive no care?

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: None. Cis white girl

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