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

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

Name of Facility: Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

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

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: I was admitted to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in 2017 based on an unfounded belief by a family member that I might be suicidal (which I in no way was). I have a 30-year history of chronic, treatment-resistant depression (without a single suicidal incident). The episode that resulted in my hospitalization, however, was an isolated occurrence of distress based on a situation with my wife earlier that week, which turned out to be groundless and was completely resolved earlier, after which time I was, if anything, feeling better.

Nevertheless, the family member I mentioned above felt it necessary call the police (who approached me as I was calmly enjoying a donut and coffee in front of a local donut shop), resulting in my being hauled off to Northwest Community Hospital for evaluation, and based solely on a phone call between the Psychiatric Liaison and the psychiatrist on call. I was sent to Chicago Lakeshore early the next morning and placed under the “care” of another psychiatrist. I was never suicidal nor was I having any suicidal thoughts.

In spite of my insistence that the whole affair originated from a short-lasting episode in which my depression played no part, throughout my week-long stay at Chicago Lakeshore, the psychiatrist remained doggedly fixated on it, raising the subject at every one of our daily meetings, fiddling with my antidepressant medication dosage, which was already being well-managed my regular psychiatrist, who had been treating me for some 14 years and who has my complete trust. Yet the psychiatrist persisted in treating the actual precipitating incident as irrelevant. After 30 years of coping with depression, I could very well discern the difference between it and a very short-lived situation, which, unlike depression, does not abruptly evaporate the moment the underlying cause is resolved.

The hospital offered daily group therapy sessions, which I declined, since, again, the precipitating incident had been completely resolved. Virtually all of my other time at the hospital was spent lying in bed in a state of growing rage over my situation and the doctor’s incompetent and negligent handling of it. My hospitalization was the result of a total disregard or misinterpretation of the facts of the incident and caused me significant emotional distress and difficulty interacting with my family.

If the various hospital personnel involved had taken care to perform a competent evaluation of the situation and take subsequent action based on the facts rather than supposition and unfounded assumptions, it would have dispelled their notion that I was a suicide risk and avoided a completely unnecessary, traumatic and ultimately harmful week of involuntary hospitalization. The overall effect of my hospitalization, far from being therapeutic, was to leave me far more distressed, enraged and agitated – resulted in a deepening of my depression – which continues to the present day along with a deep sense of rage at the harm it has caused.

Considering the facts, how any competent mental health professional could find a rationale for requiring hospitalization of someone who has neither displayed any behavior nor expressed any thoughts indicating an intention to attempt suicide totally escapes me. But hospitalized I was – either because the Psychiatric Liaison took poor notes, was not paying attention to my comments when she interviewed me, did a poor job of communicating her information to the psychiatrist on call or because he misinterpreted the information provided by the Psychiatric Liaison, I have no way of knowing.

I only know the result: that he ordered me hospitalized based on a serious or at least superficial understanding of the facts of the situation or based on a lack of a complete understanding of those facts. The end result was an utterly unwarranted order for my involuntary hospitalization in a psychiatric facility, a hospitalization that would prove to provide no benefit, protect me from a nonexistent risk, and ultimately cause me considerable distress.

The doctor at Lakeshore visited me daily throughout the week, again fixated on my depression as my core issue. On Wednesday (I believe) we had a discussion of the dosage of the antidepressant I have been taking for many years. I told him that until sometime the previous November I had been taking 40 mg. per day, but around that time I began to experience something like panic attacks, and my regular psychiatrist reduced the dose to 10 mg., after which the problem ceased.

He expressed the opinion that a 10 mg. dose was too low and told me he would me increasing my dose to 20 mg. The following day, however, he informed me that the admissions people had (incorrectly, obviously) recorded my current dose as 40 mg., but despite my insistence that this was clearly an error during the admissions process, he then told me that he was now going to increase my dose to 60 mg. He had clearly not referred back to his notes from the previous day before making this decision.

Friday of that week arrived, and I spoke briefly with the social worker assigned to me , who indicated that there was no reason I could not be discharged as soon as the doctor signed the discharge order. Late in the day, I encountered the social worker  as he was about to leave work and asked him about the status of my discharge. He informed me that the psychiatrist had simply failed to sign the order before leaving, with the result that I would remain confined to the hospital until Monday.

On either Saturday or Sunday (I do not now recall which), the psychiatrist on call for the weekend visited me, and I explained the psychiatrist’s confusion about my antidepressant dose, resulting in it’s being reduced again to 20mg.

The time I had to dwell on my incompetent treatment and separation from my family, far from being therapeutic, left me in a far worse mental state after leaving the hospital than prior to my admission. My rage, for all the reasons I mention above, continues to fester within me to a degree where I frequently become too agitated to do anything productive or interact with others.

If you should ever have to deal with either of these psychiatric “professionals”, do yourself a favor and insist that they not be involved in your “care” so they will not have an opportunity to inflict the same damage on you that they did on me.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Gross disregard of the facts related to my situation

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

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

Sheppard Pratt Trauma Unit

Name of Facility: Sheppard Pratt Trauma Unit

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: My therapist thought this place would be the magic bullet for my dissociation bc they specialize in it, but Shepherd Pratt trauma unit is a btr than average psych ward, not more. I was unimpressed with the daily groups they ran, mostly by mental health workers, who were lightly trained 20 year olds. The drs were good.

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

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2018

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