Inova Loudoun Hospital – Cornwall Campus

Name of Facility: Inova Loudoun Hospital – Cornwall Campus

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Leesburg, VA, United States

Number of Stars: 3.5

Description of Experience: I stayed at Inova Loudoun – Cornwall voluntarily twice. First, when I was suicidal, and second, after a suicide attempt. Both times I was told (first time – by my outpatient PHP program and second time – by the attending physician at the “regular” hospital) had I not been voluntarily admitted, they would have me involuntarily admitted.

I’ve never been at another facility so it’s hard to compare, but reading some of the reviews here, it is likely one of the better facilities. There is group twice a day. They separate those needing more security from those needing less (although I was moved to the more secure side once due to them running out of rooms — those on the “secure” side for space reasons were allowed to the other side whenever they wanted, but needed to find a staff member to open the door). They have a TV, some DVDs, puzzles, coloring, board games, and books to pass the time. They encourage interaction among the patients.

If you are there involuntarily or from a hospital transfer, they provide you with scrubs to wear. Your family/friends can then provide clothes for you. They have to be checked not to have any ties/laces, etc. You cannot have your cell phone. Phones are turned off overnight and during group times. Group met twice per day. There was also a morning check-in and usually some activity (chair yoga, collages) once per day. You saw a doctor every couple days maybe — not on weekends.

The staff for the most part seemed to do their jobs well. Some were a bit jaded but there were few like that. Most did not treat you as a person (patient only), but some did. The social workers seemed to care.

My first time, I was under the impression that the hospital stay was for healing. I learned that it is not – it is for stabilization. The second time, I just treated it as something to get through, and I did quickly.

I highly believe that peer crisis centers would be better than psych wards for suicidality. Hospital stays keep us safe, but they add to the trauma as well.

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

Year(s) Your Experience(s) Occurred (i.e. 2015): 2016, 2017

Lourdes Counseling Center

Name of Facility: Lourdes Counseling Center, Transitions unit

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Richland, WA, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Description of Experience: I’ve been to the short term residential center called transitions twice now. The first time I spent only a night there in early 2015 before getting so bored that I lied my way out. The second stay was very recently, April 2018, and I stayed there a total of 3 nights but most of 4 days. This review will be for my more recent and longer stay.

Pros:

The staff seem well-intentioned. I didn’t hear them say anything negative about the patients there who were more severe and had abnormal behaviors because of their mental state.

They do everything in their power to make sure you don’t get stuck with a huge bill. When I was admitted they took my insurance info but assured me that I wouldn’t see a bill for anything insurance didn’t cover. So far that has been true.

The food is not great but decent. They have decaf coffee and tea available at all times. Snack times are scheduled between meals and the structure can be helpful.

The rooms! There are 13 rooms on the ward and each one has it’s own bathroom. You have your own room and the bed is on the small side but comfortable. There’s a big window with adjustable blinds so you can see the sky.

There’s a tiny courtyard that is available at all times during the day to patients. You can go outside whenever you want to. It has a little bit of grass as well as a sidewalk. A few patients spent most of their time walking in circles out there just to have some movement.

They have 2 stationary bikes for exercise.

The groups add structure to the day.

You’re allowed visitors any time during the day other than during group times.

The staff is helpful when you have questions and they work hard to be friendly.

The hospital that runs this program is very Catholic but I didn’t feel that religion was a main priority for the counselors unless the patient specified that they were religious.

Cons:

The staff seems to really want to help, but some of them don’t seem to have enough training to help more severe cases or do much past giving really entry level “advice”.

I told them during admissions that I have a history with eating disorders and there was no monitoring [related to that] while there.

The whole first night I was there wasn’t very good. I got there on a Saturday and weekends are a bit less structured than week days. I didn’t feel cared for and didn’t really know what was expected or planned because no one told me anything. I felt like I was in a fish bowl, under observation but not really able to connect with the world. When I asked one of the head counselors a question he looked at me like my question was ridiculous. I only asked if I could have a picture to color because they hadn’t given me my belongings at that point and I had been there for 3 hours with nothing to occupy me.

They seemed to forget about giving me my belongings after they were looked through. When I finally asked if someone could get me a book a nurse exclaimed “oh! Your stuff!” and handed me a laundry basket full of my belongings which had been just sitting behind the desk for at least an hour.

The discharge process can take days. I asked about being discharged very gently and they said they would need to wait to find out if I was eligible until the nurse who was able to prescribe meds was there because I needed a refill of a med I had already been on for over a year but they weren’t sure if she would be okay writing me a prescription, even a refill, without monitoring me for a couple of days. When that nurse was in the next day I asked multiple nurses and counselors throughout the day to make sure I was on her list to be seen and the last person I asked informed me she had just left for the day and I had to wait.

There’s no separation between people who are mostly there as a stage of detox and people who are there to stabilize their mental health.

Patients talk freely and loudly about their lives and struggles and while I see the benefit this may have, it is absolutely counterproductive in many cases. Not to mention how hearing about everyone else’s trauma brings up my own.

You have to have your wristband scanned to receive medication but they forgot to give me one until my second day there. No one noticed until they tried to give me a medicine and the nurse asked why I didn’t have a bracelet.

They talk about exercise as if it is the cure to end all cures. This can be harmful.

You’re allowed comfortable clothes, no shoes, no strings. They pat you down on arrival but don’t make you take any major clothing items off unless they’re seen as unsafe. No electronic devices of any kind are allowed on the ward.

Medication management is decent but could use some work. No smoking is allowed but they offer nicorette gum and nicotine patches (but those have to be prescribed).

The things you bring with you are what you have while there. My partner tried to bring me a stuffed animal when he visited one day and they didn’t allow me to have it. From what I gathered, they don’t allow any outside items brought in after admission.

Overall

Overall I really do think the intentions of this unit are good, they just need some work.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Nonbinary, pansexual, anxiety, ptsd, depression, bulimia. I don’t go by my legal name. After I pointed this out most staff tried to adjust.

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

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

Cayuga Medical Center

Name of Facility: Cayuga Medical Center

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Ithaca, New York, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Description of Experience: I was admitted that the adolescent’s ward in February of this year, and my experience was mostly positive. I was admitted for a gender dysphoria caused suicide attempt, and the nurses in the emergency room were very kind and polite. The questioning was long winded, but they managed to make it bearable. When I finally got into the waiting area for acceptance into the ward, I had all my current belongings checked (My shirt that said “If at first you don’t succeed, you probably just suck” was not allowed due to ‘rude messaging’ which I guess I understand) and I was given scrubs to wear for the time being. I waited for at least 5 hours alone to be moved.

When I finally got there, I was introduced to the nurse and tech, who were very nice. The schedule was filled with groups, but there was quite a bit of free time. We had two hours for schoolwork each day, and the school was contacted by the hospital for us. We met with the psychologist team everyday, and were given activities to prepare us for discharge. I stayed for about a week and two days, and my only complaints were that the staff yelled at me on the first few days for fidgeting via drawing, causing me to cry and breakdown. Their points system also meant that some nurses could give less points depending on if they liked you or not, which greatly affected what you were able to do. Also, we only went outside once, and it was incredibly claustrophobic inside the ward.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Trans man, gay

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

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

Health Alliance Hospital, Mary’s Ave Campus

Name of Hospital: HealthAlliance Hospital, Mary’s Ave Campus

City, State/Province, Country: Kingston, NY, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Comment: Staff were often kind and understanding, and worked hard to ensure people’s comfort. food was alright and there was a good variety. Groups were interesting, engaging, and sometimes fun.

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

Year(s) : 2015-2016

OHSU Psych Ward

Name of Hospital: OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) Psych Ward

City, State/Province, Country: Portland, Oregon, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Comment: I was placed here after a failed suicide attempt and was there for only 2 weeks. This, however, was more then enough time to gauge what it was going to be like if I was there longer.

It felt rather cramped with people. Outside of a few of single bedroom “observation” rooms, there was two people to a room with about 6-8 rooms and (I believe) two of the fore-mentioned “observation” rooms. The entire place was lit with fluorescent light and with few windows, there was very little natural light (something I am quite sensitive to). To top it off, there was a dearth of things to do. When I am emotionally off-kilter, I need something solitary to occupy my mind with. They had nothing but a single TV, a game of Uno (and a few other Milton-Bradly BS games), and a few jigsaw puzzles (from what I remember). There was also a “group therapy” session thing every day that was non-mandatory. I went to one and felt that it was a farce.

On the bright side, they let my parents bring some things including a few books, a stuffed animal, my phone, and my iPod touch (which actually helped a lot). I also had several visitors, including one I was not expecting. The food is also pretty good there. But please bare in mind, I was sent to a “low-threat” ward. Apparently they had a “high-threat” ward which would probably be a completely different environment.

I only met with a counselor once and all that was discussed was warning signs and a quick list of coping strategies was made in case of severe emotional deterioration.

After 2 weeks, they said that I was now in on a voluntary basis but I left that day because I was transferred out of the “observation” rooms and into a double bedroom. I am never super comfortable around strangers (though it doesn’t show) and the only real time that I can recharge is when I am alone. I probably should of fought the decision but it was confusing time for myself and I’ve never been much of a self-advocate. I also really should of stuck around a little while longer to sort myself out a little further but I knew that that wasn’t going to happen if I am forced into contact with others. As I left I wasn’t given any support, outpatient plan, nothing. Not even a list of potential psychiatrists or psychologists.

Looking back on it, I felt that I could have been left to rot in there. The nurses, while nice and kind, were not especially helpful outside of daily living (basically food and idle chit-chat). I never met the doctor whom I was “under the care of,” the counselor whom I met was a student doctor (though I don’t think he was bad, actually, just inexperienced). All-in-all, the only real reason why I got better there was out of self direction. If I had health insurance, things may of progressed differently but I didn’t at the time…

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: High-functioning Autism (undiagnosed at the time), Lacked health insurance