Dominion Hospital

Name of Facility: Dominion Mental Hospital

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Falls Church, Virginia, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Description of Experience: When I was hospitalised back in 2015, I was recovering from a suicidal attempt and was on Prozac with Abilify. When I was admitted, the staff would constantly stare and whisper to each other about patients and made unprofessional remarks. The psychiatrist who only gave me five minutes of his time, assured me that I needed to lose weight and that good Muslims don’t attempt suicide.

When I was discharging, I learned that my insurance didn’t pay for the rest of the stay because the psychiatrist wrote that I am a normal adolescent who doesn’t need psychiatric treatment. I have been diagnosed by countless medical professionals and have been on antidepressants a year prior. When I was discharged and spoke to my primary psychiatrist and told him what happened, he tried to negotiate with the insurance company saying that the psychiatrist had obviously misdiagnosed me but insurance wouldn’t have it, even though I have made many claims for my therapy sessions and have picked up my prescriptions which was paid for by them. I do NOT recommend this place.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: Being a Pakistani American Muslim

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

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: UGH.

I was admitted voluntarily to Dominion Hospital after a suicide attempt, and stayed there for a week. They basically did nothing right. To begin with, I never saw a therapist. The psychiatrist I saw for five minutes once a day, in which time he decided that I was lying about the cat scratches on my arms (I have an aggressive cat) and that they must be self-harm, therefore all of my previous diagnoses were incorrect and I was bipolar. He then, despite my protests that I had hypersomnia when in a place that I could sleep, put me on Seroquel. I ended up having to stop taking it because otherwise I couldn’t get up for work.

Sleeping was nearly impossible. Night staff would come clomping into the room with flashlights and wake me up every fifteen minutes. There was a light shining directly in my eyes, and when I tried to put the pillow over my eyes to block it out , they woke me up to make me take it off. I brought a comfort pillow and a comfort stuffed animal and was told that I could keep them, but two days into my stay they vanished from my room, and I was told I could not have them. Complaints from me and from my parents saw no results.

The food was nearly inedible, the groups were useless, and we were barely ever taken outside; I think I went outside for a collective hour during the entire time I was there (seven days). On top of anything else, my doctor refused to release me on a Friday so I could go to a program I had been looking forward to. He said he wanted to monitor me further, then promptly disappeared for the weekend and did not see me again until Monday morning, when he released me.

The hospital was dirty and worn down. The staff was dismissive and authoritarian. I was having an anxiety attack and was told that I was having a temper tantrum and that I had better stop or they wouldn’t let me out ever. I also tried to sign myself out AMA, but I was told that my parents would ask for a court order to keep me in the hospital if I did– my parents later told me this was a total lie. The only thing the hospital did for me was to get me into a post-hospital mental health care program, and rack up 10k in debt that I only managed to pay off by selling my car.

I will never, ever go to this hospital again. I will avoid psych wards as much as possible based on this experience. Don’t go here if you have any choice.

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

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

Year(s) : 2015

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: Would not recommend. Admission included a strip search (which from an acquaintance, I found out that he did not have to go through it as I did), being restrained to your room and one common area that you are assigned to for the first 24 hours (instead of going outside, to cafeteria for meals, etc), and lack of individuality. I overheard a staff member refer to me as the “Asian that attempted suicide” rather than by name.

Food was awful that in the 8 days I stayed there, I lost 20 lbs. “Free time” activities available there include watching movies (depends on TV availability), broken guitar, and radio (depends on availability). Other activities such as reading, coloring, sudoku, etc, must be brought in from home but cannot be done during assigned room time as writing utensils are not allowed in the rooms.

Each room can bed up to 3 people. Glass panes are approximately 3×6 feet, but the portion of the window that actually opens is about an inch wide. Doors do not lock so you do not have privacy whatsoever, and if you were admitted with an eating disorder, you are not allowed to use the restroom within a certain time after eating without a staff member.

They did not honor my wishes of being placed in the boys’ ward (as I did not identify as a female), then continued to misgender me throughout my stay.

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

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

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 2

Comment: This was not helpful. The staff were rude and social workers were bad. Not very clean or well kept. Pyschistrist put me through a bunch of tests and said my results were “inconclusive”???????? Overall awful. We were not allowed to go outside even though the weather was nice. Peoples gender identities were not recognized by staff. Food is awful. Overall, dysfunctional. Would not recommend. The partial program is a bit better.

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

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Reflections at Dominion Hospital (Eating Disorder Unit)

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, Virginia, USA

Number of Stars: 2

Comment: Some of the staff are very knowledgeable and caring and helpful, but most of them are not. The meals are very structured which I feel is beneficial, but there are almost no groups during the day. The staff tend to pick favorites and treat the rest of the patients rather poorly. The rooms are clean, but the day room is not. The PHP and Inpatient patients are together from 7am-7pm. The bedroom doors are locked during the day, and you are not allowed to use the bathroom during meals even with someone watching/listening. During the day, you are able to use the toilet with a staff member standing at the door with the door cracked open. There is a curtain so they do not see you. There are 2 beds in 1 room, a bathroom which includes a shower.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Inpatient and PHP (PHP is Day treatment)

Any other identities/marginalizations i.e. race/gender/sexuality that could have influenced your stay?: Yes, I am female, and males are able to be patients, which i feel gives me an advantage since Eating Disorders are highly stigmatized amongst males, which I feel gave me an advantage with how I was treated. I feel as though my age may have also been a factor in the quality of the IP and PHP stays I’ve had there, in a negative way. If you are under 20 they seem to treat you worse (I was under 20)

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital- Adolescent Unit

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, Virginia, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: The staff, psychiatrists, and therapists were all very hurtful. They did not take into consideration your wishes, and did not treat the patients right. There were almost no structured groups during the day, either. The only reason I’m giving it a 1.5 instead of 1, is because the rooms are clean. The rest of the adolescent unit and cafeteria are not.

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.

Dominion Hospital

Name of Hospital: Dominion Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Falls Church, VA, USA

Number of Stars: 3

Comment: I spent time at Dominion both as a day program patient and an inpatient patient. In the Reflections Eating Disorder Treatment Unit, I saw questionable treatment from the staff. One nurse made the comment that we were at fault for the medical conditions we developed, as we were being ” unkind” to our bodies. My therapist told me to ” get over and move on” my reluctance to work with my mother considering her role in my development of anorexia, without attempting to work it through with me and my mother, dismissing my feelings as well as my trauma.

One nutritionist ran a nutrition group who had never done it before and who dismissed people’s food fears, invalidated us, had no training or preparation, seemingly no experience working with ED patients, and suggested such triggering exercises that a patient angrily ran out of the room. Overall, there were some good groups that were helpful to many, but there was also a lot of downtime outside of group, more than necessary for a day program.

My experience inpatient was drastically worse. The common perception of patients in the adolescent unit was that they were ” ungrateful delinquents”. The problems I personally have with this statement are too many to list. Punishments that were supposed to be safety regulations for more at risk patients were used when patients broke rules. Though I brought this up to a therapist who said that that behavior was unethical and that she would speak about it to the staff, nothing changed. There were rules that were absolutely nonsensical and had absolutely no purpose in aiding or recovery, such as no contact with the opposite gender or people in different units, and an overly strict dress code. No dresses/skirts above the knee were allowed, and one girl was told that she had to change out of her leggings bc they were too form fitting ( they were ordinary leggings, she was just curvaceous).

In group therapy, family abuse from parents was discussed and treated as simple family disagreement which was partially the victim’s fault. There was still a lack of prioritization of care, as groups were very general, and family therapy was mandatory but one on one was optional. It gave the message that as long as these patients immediately weren’t a danger to themselves, even without solving problems or learning to cope, they would be thrust back to their families. There was a general indifference and callousness in the way the staff treated patients, with absolutely no empathy or understanding of mental illness. It was reminiscent of being herded in a zoo at times. One thing that made it better than at reflections was less restrictions on taboo topics, which allowed me to talk about issues I had. This was a need that was completely unmet at Reflections. Food was edible, but gross.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations i.e. race/gender/sexuality that could have influenced your stay?: Ableism was a big factor. I didn’t note any racism or sexism that wasn’t the garden variety kind that is ingrained into the practice of psychology, but in terms of race I am white passing and wouldn’t face discrimanation for the most part. Most people in the girls unit where I stayed at were LGBT, and there was trans boy in the boys unit. This was never really acknowledged beyond between patients. Heteronormativity was a factor, but it wasn’t really major. I don’t know how the trans boy was treated in the boys unit as I met him once and was allowed to talk to him unlike the other (cis) boys briefly, but for the most part I saw that staff treated him relatively the same and tried to use his pronouns, and was willing to be corrected if they mis gendered him. However, this is what I saw when observing one staff member rather than all.