Gateway Regional Medical Center

Name of Facility: Gateway Regional Medical Center

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Granite City, Illinois, USA

Number of Stars: 4

Description of Experience: I was admitted on July 5th, 2017, for suicidal thoughts and self-harm. I had to spend hours upon hours upon hours in the emergency room before they brought me up to my bedroom (there was a special set of rooms for incoming psych patients). Everything was very confusing for my first day, but adapting was very easy. Literally almost all of my stay consisted of being stuck in one room with the other patients (we were not allowed to leave “the dayroom” except for at bedtime).

Legitimately all we had to do was play cards and talk. Since all anyone played was gin rummy (something I don’t know the rules to), I was stuck just spectating unless I could find someone to play Uno with. Boys and girls were separated–we weren’t allowed to sit at the same tables without a staff member present, and had to stay at arm’s length when about the room.

We had “Group” a couple times a day, and that was pretty much all we got treatment-wise besides medicine and “daily” unproductive meetings with therapists (they didn’t come in on weekends or certain weekdays). “Group” was not beneficial at all; the worst example of which I experienced was when one staff member spent an entire meeting either educating us on bestiality or bragging to us (a bunch of abused children) about how she horribly beat her kids. I don’t feel like I have to explain why that was out of line.

However, I would like to add that the food was actually pretty decent, and as a vegetarian I got my needs accommodated well (actually, I recommend to anyone who stays at Gateway to request vegetarian options–you can have grilled cheese for every meal of the day while everyone else has things like tuna salad sandwiches). All the requirements to be released were is to have two positive family sessions, which is where they sit you down with your family and have you talk for a bit. Not very hard really.

However, any kids who ended up there as wards of the state, foster kids, etc, could be kept for much longer. One kid had been in there for exactly 80 days as of the day I left because the government just didn’t seem to know what to do with him. The staff ranged from pretty great to terrible, although most fell in the unremarkable category. Only one person would really qualify as pretty great, and only one other would qualify as terrible (the aforementioned woman who bragged about child abuse). Sleeping was nearly impossible; the bedrooms were incredibly hot and stuffy and you had to keep your door open at all times so that bright light from the hallway spilled in.

Basically overall, I don’t feel like I gained anything from the experience except the added motivation to stop self-harming that was basically “I don’t want to end up in that ward again.” I don’t feel like my stay was productive at all besides that and the fact that I was finally diagnosed and began medication (I had kept quiet about mental health issues until the event that got me admitted). All in all, I don’t think anyone will get anything out of staying, but nothing was outright terrible except for how slowly time passed the first day I was there and how horridly my anxiety was acting up. Everything was just basically decent, with no real outliers besides the one terrible staff member.

Here’s the part where I talk specifically about my experience as a trans man, or just a LGBT+ person in general. Firstly, I was asked my sexuality by every single staff member in charge of treatment. Every therapist I met with, the pediatrician, the woman who showed me into my room, always asked me pretty early on, “Are you into guys, girls, or both?” Some tacked on an option of “neither.” This seemed to be standard procedure, but could have just been because I was trans. I was obviously offended by this, and nearly said something, but bit my tongue because you had to behave if you wanted to go home.

I was put in a bedroom by myself–everyone was given either a room by themself or a with a roommate (each was equipped with two beds), and I wasn’t allowed a roommate, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. Half the people in there weren’t allowed roommates either, (for anger issues or other reasons) so it wasn’t really seen as peculiar by the other kids. I was deadnamed only around less than 30% of the time by staff (I haven’t legally changed my name), which deeply bothered me but I could handle. I also was called “ma’am” a few times, which really bugged me.

I experienced no blatant transphobia or homophobia from the staff, and was treated as a man by therapists. I was also treated as a boy in the dayroom–I was supposed to sit with the guys and avoid the girls. I had been asked at the beginning of my stay what I preferred (they said the last trans guy they had asked to be put with the girls), and my decision was met with no objection. I wasn’t outed to any of the other patients, and was allowed to remain stealth (have people think I was a cis man). So, overall, no real complaints in how I was treated as a trans person aside from some deadnaming and misgendering. Treatment was much better than what I expected in that regard.

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

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: I am FTM transgender (I identify as male but was assigned female at birth), pansexual, and a minor