Northside Mental Health Center

Name of Hospital: Northside Mental Health Center

City, State/Province, Country: Tampa, FL, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: I was admitted to Northside after a family member called 911 after a suicide attempt. This family member’s intent was not for me to be admitted, but to be given a physical evaluation and then discharged to stay with my therapist (which he explained, repeatedly, to the medical staff he talked to). When the ambulance and police arrived, I was told that I was going to be admitted and that I could either volunteer to go with them since I admitted to what happened, or I could go in handcuffs and risk getting a criminal charge. I volunteered to go with them.

I was first put in admissions through St. Joseph’s hospital, in their psychiatric patient center. I was there for roughly 10-12 hours waiting to figure out what would happen, and got questioned a lot in a sleep-deprived, anxiety-driven state of disorientation. After the second or third questioning I was told that I would be transferred to Northside since they were the only psych facility with beds.

The transfer to Northside was not that bad, and the admitting tech was super nice. The nurses and day techs were also nice for the most part, while the night techs took the chance to make fun of me as much as possible (especially when I would ask for my religious texts or carry a small plush animal that they let me have around). We were only allowed to go outside for 15-20 minute increments a few times a day (although one particular tech would give us up to an hour because he felt that 20 minutes was too short)… As someone with seasonal depression this worsened that by a lot.

I only met with the psychiatrist three times: once for a general history check, once to tell me what meds I’d be given, and once to tell me I was being discharged. I was not part of group therapy or any extensive inpatient activities or programs; my stay was only 3.5 days. I wish I could have done group therapy at least once but people with longer-term stays were priority for that. We were not allowed to sleep or shower except at certain times and if we didn’t eat at certain times we didn’t eat at all. The shower water was also extremely cold and gave me bruises, and the medications I was prescribed actually could have killed me. Visiting hours were also super restricted, and I got yelled at for holding hands with my husband. Healthy affection from visitors was super prohibited and I felt like that greatly hindered treatment.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I don’t think my race or sexuality influenced my treatment at all. My religious affiliation, however, caused one nurse to better advocate for me and most of the techs to make fun of me and ask if that’s why I was there.

Year(s) : 2014

St. Joseph’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center

Name of Hospital: St. Joseph’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center

City, State/Province, Country: Tampa, Florida, United States

Number of Stars: 2

Comment: In Florida we have the Baker Act which allows for people to be involuntarily placed in a psychiatric facility following certain circumstances. Due to self-injury I matched these circumstances and was placed into this behavioral center about 7-8 hours after initially arriving at the hospital.

They took precautions to ensure that I was not bringing in anything that could be used to harm myself or others. After the mandatory strip search I was given a schedule and placed in a very cold room with weighted tables and chairs. No one had explained the rules or what I was supposed to do. My parents brought in clothes within a few hours of my arrival. They refused to look for or give me my clothes until the end of the second day when my parents got angry discovering I was still in the same hospital gown I had arrived in. I did not receive the socks they were apparently supposed to give me upon arrival until the third day.

They gave me incorrect dosages of my medication (both anti-depressants and medications taken for health purposes). I saw the psychiatrist twice during my 72 hour stay. The first time he verified who I was and the second time he told me I was going home. One of the events that occurred in the hospital that I found terrifying was one girl broke down into a form of hysteria and was taken away. The next time I saw her she had been injected with some sort of drug and was completely unaware of what was going on around her. When we were taken to the gym the nurses would hurl softballs at us even though it was clear that it set off or upset several of us. We were told that if we hugged each other or came into physical contact with each other in any other way that we would be tackled.

I was warned by the other patients that they would try and keep me in the hospital. Indeed they did, the psychiatrist upon meeting me once determined that I was severely depressed, suicidal, etc. The first interval of staying is 72 hours. The second they could keep me for up to a month. During my visit I was given no amount of help. I was talked to once, unofficially by a nurse. There was also the separate matter of my room. This was a hospital so I was hardly expecting quality furniture. However, mattresses only an inch thick and a single pillow between my roommate and I were a bit subpar.

In summary, I received no help, had to fight and argue in order to get my clothes, was given insufficient medication, and could only watch as fellow patients’ human rights were neglected or abused. More than what I am mentioning occurred, but this is all I truly care to share.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I am a homosexual female.