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

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