High Focus Centers

Name of Facility: High Focus Centers

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Cranford, NJ, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Description of Experience: High Focus provided me with many many techniques on coping skills and mindfulness practice. I don’t give it 5 stars because the clinicians can range in being really helpful/positive/supportive to being very negative/unsupportive. During my time there I witnessed several clinicians deny their patients arguments and feelings. The MHAs and Van Drivers are often very polite and know how to help kids out. They have school sessions included in their day-to-day treatment schedules. I think there are several situations some of the clinicians are just unprepared for.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): Partial Day (PHP) & Intensive Outpatient (IOP)

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

Miami Valley Hospital

Name of Hospital: Miami Valley Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Dayton, Ohio, United States

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: I stayed on the psych unit for inpatient treatment for about two weeks in 2012 after a suicide attempt. I had a positive experience with the unit in general, but am reducing one star because of a misdiagnosis that, looking back, could have completely been prevented if a closer watch had been kept by an actual doctor (I only saw a resident for about five minutes at six am every morning, during which I was so sleepy I didn’t even know what was going on.)

I was admitted late in the evening, and the nurses were very kind about finding a change of clothes that fit comfortably and gently trying to coax me into eating something I would like. The rooms are pretty nice, even though I sometimes had to share. There is a privacy curtain, which is more than I can say for other facilities. The bathroom has a full heavy door for complete privacy and a metal mirror, which is something other places don’t always have.

There is a nurse call button by the bed. The beds are typical hospital beds but are nicer than the plastic-covered foam mattresses that some others have. Things are nice and quiet at night, the nurses don’t come in at all hours getting vitals or anything. If you want to sleep during the day they are ok with that, they just check on you quietly from time to time.

The rooms have plenty of shelves for personal belongings, which family can bring as long as it does not violate the safety precautions. They may also bring street clothes, which you can wash for free in the machines they have in the unit. Flowers deliveries are allowed in plastic vases. Visiting can occur in the common area or private rooms with an attendant. At mealtimes you can order off a list and the food is brought up. You can eat in your room or in the common area. There’s a little corner with decaf tea and snacks. The common area has a TV and some games and puzzles.

All the nurses were excellent, they made sure you were comfortable physically but often stopped to ask if you wanted to talk about anything. They weren’t therapists or anything but they were willing to just listen, which was really comforting. There was one nurse who was not helpful, one day I had a searing migraine and she absolutely refused to ask my resident to order me a prescription of the medication prescribed by my family doctor because, according to her, I should have asked him when he made his rounds (at 6am, when I was ASLEEP.) She was horribly rude and unfeeling.

But one bad nurse out of dozens isn’t that awful, I suppose. I would choose this hospital over any other if I ever needed another inpatient stay.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: no

Year(s) : 2012

Lehigh Valley Muhlenberg

Name of Hospital: Lehigh Valley Muhlenberg (Adolescent Unit)

City, State/Province, Country: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: When it comes to most psychiatric related programs, my belief is that you get out of it only as much as you put into it. This review may be biased because I put in a ton of work towards recovery during my stay here.

That being said, I feel that Muhlenberg saved my life. There were some nurses that were ill-suited to their professions (as there is anywhere, I think), but all in all the nurses there were amazing and really cared about us.

As far as the actual program, it was group therapy and spending time with the other residents that was most helpful. You can’t really opt out of going to the different therapies throughout the day unless you want to lose privileges. You need 2 days (I believe) of good behavior and attending all of the programs to level up, which gets you things like a later time you can stay up to and more phone calls. If you level up enough you can go outside with your family during visiting hours. Some of the programs that they have are good (pet therapy) and some are boring (bullying awareness). In general, it was really good for me to be around other people all day, even if the task at hand wasn’t intriguing.

Their school program is alright, though it’s only for about an hour and a half each day, and sometimes the psychiatrists will pull you out of it. There were two psychiatrists there when I was a resident. One took everything seriously and the other took nothing seriously, both to the point of annoyance. Personalities aside, they were good at what they did.

My psychiatrists released me before I was stable on my meds, which caused me to break down outside of the hospital and come back a few days later. It might seem like a mistake like that should result in me giving less than 4.5 stars, but the coping tactics I learned and the therapy I got there has truly saved my life.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Bisexual (they were really unbiased about the fact that I was a woman dating a woman and treated everyone the same)

Year(s) : August of 2016

Sheppard Pratt Hospital

Name of Hospital: Sheppard Pratt Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Towson, MD, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: I showed up at Sheppard-Pratt in crisis (depression, anxiety, eating disorder, suicidal ideations). Waiting room was impersonal and cold, and I nearly broke down and fled while waiting in the crisis center. But once I saw a nurse, she saw how bad off I was and called a doctor immediately. When (between sobs) I made it clear that I had no insurance and no money, they waived the crisis center referral fee and immediately referred me to the Resident Outpatient Program. $5/half hour to see a last-year psych resident who could prescribe medications. It was a literal lifesaver in my case – I guarantee I’d be dead without it.

I kept going to the ROP for about two and a half years until I moved out of state and though having the psych docs cycling once a year sucked, they were all fairly solid. They were also forgiving about payment, accepting payment in spare change and/or late when necessary. When I moved, my ROP therapist went out of her way attempting to find a similar program in Cincinnati to no avail.

That said, I’ve had a friend involuntarily referred to the inpatient program here back in the 90s and it literally left her with PTSD. Though my experience was excellent, other people’s may not be (especially PoC – I’m white, and that may be why I had a good experience and my friend did not).

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

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

Year(s) : 2010-2012

Georgetown University Hospital

Hospital: Georgetown University Hospital

City/State/Country: Washington, D.C., United States

Stars: 4.5

Comments: Treated pretty well there. The staff seemed to genuinely care. The groups could have been a little more interesting most of the time but some of them were useful like the stress management one. They had a lot of board games, books, art supplies, a laundry room, and a TV (complete with movies to check out). My room had its own shower unit (I don’t think all of them did, and other people said sometimes it was hard to get hot water – I never had that issue).

One thing I didn’t like, apart from having to go there, was that the patient phones did not call long-distance so you would have to ask them to make long-distance calls for you, and they took the phones and turned off the TV during groups. They didn’t require you to go to the groups for the most part, however, though it was encouraged – and there were only about 2 groups a day. This left a lot of downtime.

Another downside was that I saw three different doctors while I was there partly because I was there over the weekend. It’s also a teaching hospital, so you get some different people at different times.

Additionally the food was pretty bad except for their mac n cheese and chicken tenders, and sometimes people’s orders got screwed up. But if you had money, they would let you order food over the phone to be delivered right up to the ward door. I ordered pizza once.

They did listen when I said I did not want a medication, though I’m not sure if this was everyone’s experience. They used my preferred name though I didn’t tell them about being non-binary. You can wear your own clothes on the ward. Note this is a voluntary ward. It’s definitely still a hospital/institution, but I was surprised at how many things were available for us to do and the general niceness of the staff.

Type of program: Inpatient

Other marginalizations/identities that might have influenced your stay: White, genderqueer/non-binary (did not disclose that part), queer, Autistic