Fremont Hospital

Name of Hospital: Fremont Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Fremont, California, USA

Number of Stars: 3

Comment: While it’s very clean and safe, there’s not much therapy that goes on. I only saw my doctor for a total of less than 10 minutes, and i was there for over a week. The staff kept changing and everything was disorganized. I was in the “high-functioning” unit, which had ‘special privileges’ like having longer visiting hours. No one used my pronouns and every time any of the staff referred to me they used my deadname, even if I corrected them. My doctor didn’t listen to me at all and seemed impatient to get out of there whwnever I tried to say something, he interrupted me. There was a lot of gendered language because it was a ‘women’s unit’.

They took my toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. and didn’t give it back when I was discharged. No one could get in touch with anyone so it was all really confusing and frustrating. But, it was generally pretty chill compared to the stuff that goes on in some other places.

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

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

Year(s): 2017

Piney Ridge Center

Name of Hospital: Piney Ridge Center

City, State/Province, Country: Waynesville, MO, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: Truly horrific place. I was sent there against my will 4 years ago for a suicide attempt, only now am I able to talk about it. I had been staying at a local temporary inpatient clinic before then, which had been helping tremendously. However, being sent here reversed that.

This is a prison, there is little to no therapy, and they treat you like a criminal for having depression. I walked in and there was no flooring. They were doing major renovations WHILE people were living in the space. The subfloor was exposed, glue sticking to your feet with every step. My only pair of shoes was destroyed after a few days, my only pair of socks caked in glue.

You are forced to walk with the other patients in a prison style fashion, walking in a straight line along the wall, eyes forward, hands behind your back. When you are first admitted, you are stripped down to nothing, everything removed from your body, and then they look you over, violating your privacy and taking everything from you within your first 20 minutes. You are not a human being here.

60% of the staff are sadistic, while the others may genuinely mean well, but still have to follow uncaring rules. I have severe asthma and yet they would try to force me to run around in a mildew/mould covered gym without my inhaler. I also was celiac and allergic to tree nuts, yet they somehow didn’t care to obtain my medical records, despite my repeated attempts to inform them of this. So there I am after 16 days, physically ill, down 40 or so lbs.

The staff repeatedly tried to force me into this thing called “sudsies” or something similar, where you have to show your fully naked body to them before you take a shower to prove you have soap on you. Yeah, like that’s therapeutic. Amongst my being ill, one of the nurses would still ignore me and absolutely did not care that I wasn’t retaining any nutrition whatsoever from the food they offered. The other younger nurse however cared but could only offer pepto for me expelling the contents of my stomach every time I went to the bathroom. I saw one patient beat the crap out of another and the staff reacted by yelling at the victim to not get up or move afterward while trying to figure out what to do with the other.

So after insurance stopped paying for me to stay there, I opted to go back with my abusive parents/situation than stay here a week longer, to go back to the people who caused me to not want to live anymore. If you actually love someone, you will avoid submitting them to this place. They are only nice when you leave.

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

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

Year(s): 2013

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

Name of Hospital: Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Partial Hospitalization Program

City, State/Province, Country: Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Number of Stars: 4

Comment: I spent four days attending Pine Rest’s partial hospitalization program, and overall it was a positive experience. There was lots of tea/real coffee available in the lounge, the classes were helpful, and the case managers who ran group therapy sessions were really good.

The psychiatrist was very knowledgeable about different treatment options, but he was also pretty crotchety. One thing I appreciate is that the PHP is considered a backup and if you can’t find an outpatient psychiatrist to write refills, they’ll call in refills for you.

Pine Rest is not subtle about the Christian aspect: there’s Christian inspirational posters, Bibles, and Christian pamphlets everywhere. This was pretty off-putting for me (I’m Jewish) and I think that this will deter people in the area from receiving care.

The food in the cafeteria is good, but after the first day (you get a meal ticket the first day) you have to pay for all meals yourself.

The discharge planner did some legwork on my behalf after my discharge when I was having difficulties coordinating my outpatient care, which I appreciated.

Overall, it’s a program I’d recommend, but I wish Pine Rest would dial back the Jesus stuff by ten percent.

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

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

Year(s) : April 2017

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

San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital

Name of Hospital: San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: San Antonio, TX, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: This hospital is outdated and operating like lock-ups of the 70’s. The disrespect the clients discipline for not taking meds, even when someone voluntarily goes there. They keep family away from the patients as well, withholding visitation when behaviors don’t meet their idea of compliance, when it’s the family (and close friends) who are much more likely to know the needs of the patient and help calm them. STAY AWAY!

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): 72 hour hold, inpatient, short-term program

Year(s) : 2015

Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute

Name of Hospital: Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute

City, State/Province, Country: Georgetown, Texas, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Comment: The care in this facility varied from highly competent and compassionate to abysmal. I had attempted suicide after being prescribed gabapentin off label for back/chest pain. I later found out that gabapentin has a sordid research and marketing history: the manufacturer downplayed its tendency to cause suicidal ideation from the first trials and exaggerated its effectiveness for pain. This resulted in one of the largest drug settlements ever for fraud and racketeering.

The first psychiatrist I saw, who didn’t ask what I had been on when I tried to kill myself, seemed to prescribe Effexor, Depakote, and Seroquel off label to everyone, whether or not there was evidence of psychosis or seizures or anything else for which these drugs had actually been approved. The former drugs amplified my chest/back pain and left me howling in agony, the latter made me plop to the ground.

The noise at night was horrific: sonic toilets, yelling techs, no acoustical buffering, causing sleep deprivation in people already in pain and mental distress. Not helpful. At the end of more than I week I was worse. I was finally transferred to a geriatric unit, and a wonderful psych nurse, who took my pain seriously, prescribed  methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant, which had been around since the 1940s, along with a low dose of valium. I suspect that many people were being mismedicated and their stays prolonged like mine: the visits with the psychiatrists were very short and mostly fishing for reasons to push the newer drugs that are being marketed aggressively for use off label, when there are older and safer alternatives.

There was also a heavy religious atmosphere. At one point I was questioned by a social worker if I thought suicide was “moral.” When I saw the doctor for a sinus infection, he didn’t want to treat it, but gave me his views on the second coming of Jesus Christ. I played along with this and expressed gratitude to the Lord in the mandatory morning meetings so I could get released (I do not ascribe to any particular faith, but it was clear that heathens were not looked upon gladly, and I heard at least one “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus”).

The med nurses varied from excellent to utterly incompetent: I learned to take my list of meds with me and watch carefully (I had to remind a nurse once to split a pill, and I saw another woman become very ill when they screwed up her heart medication). More than one employee was downright nasty and belittled my physical pain.

I spent over two weeks in this facility, when, if I had been treated appropriately from the outset, it would have been only a few days. I am on disability, and it cost me and Medicare many thousands of dollars. It’s unfortunate, because I would recommend a few of the people: the therapists were for the most part helpful and kind, as were most of the nurses and some of the techs, but the doctors, except for the psych nurse, seem to be unquestioning followers of Big Pharma.

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

 Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Not being Christian (although not asked directly)

Year(s) : 2016

Norwalk Hospital

Name of Hospital: Norwalk Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Norwalk, CT, USA

Number of Stars: 4

Comment: I have been hospitalized six times in the last year for a variety of disorders, namely Major Depression with and without psychotic features. I have found that the staff at Norwalk Hospital were the best of the facilities I’ve been inpatient at. Not only did I see my psychiatrist every day, but each nurse assigned to me took a large chunk of time getting to know each patient specifically. This is what sets it apart from other hospitals in CT. They did not feel the need to change my medications, just to monitor me.

This hospital was light on groups, they only did two a day, and sometimes even missed holding groups. I’d say that is a negative because the patients were very bored and had nothing else to do. The hallways were nice and wide which made it feel less claustrophobic.

Some notes: You can’t go outside here. The windows do not open even a crack (like in Stamford Hospital), the food is so-so. They are not as strict with clothing and jewelry guidelines. I could keep my engagement ring and a bracelet.

The small shortcomings don’t matter as much to me as quality therapy is my number one in rating a hospital. My nurses taught me DBT skills instead of just placating me with a sedative.

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

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

Year(s) : 2017