Harrington Co-Occurring Disorders Unit

Name of Facility: Harrington Co-Occurring Disorders Unit

Location of Facility (City, State/Province, Country): Webster, MA, USA

Number of Stars: 5

Description of Experience: The facility was the cleanest place I’d ever been in but didn’t feel sterile. The nurses and MHAs, with one exception, were perfect about respecting my gender, with one going above and beyond to help me. I actually learned helpful things in OT/group and the psychiatrist there really cared. I felt very safe and I was able to open up about some of my trauma for the first time. I’m glad that I went there.

Type of Program (inpatient, outpatient, residential, etc.): inpatient (self check-in, later sectioned)

Anything that might have impacted your stay? i.e. being LGBTQ+: nonverbal, Autistic, trans woman, PTSD, schizoaffective

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

News Articles on VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System

Name of Hospital: VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System

Location: Leeds/Northampton, MA, USA


St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center

Name of Hospital: St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center

City, State/Province, Country: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Number of Stars: 3

Comment: I was treated frustratingly upon my intake. I was required to strip fully naked and submit to a physical exam, which occurred about 15-20 minutes after my very emotional transfer to the ward. They wanted to take my sweatpants away, for having a drawstring, leaving me in itchy scrubs for the duration of my stay, but acquiesced when I suggested just cutting the string out. That was not a reassuring moment for my confidence in their common sense.

The rest of my stay (6 days) was acceptable, except for the part where I saw blatant neglect from the staff. My roommate told me that she had borderline personality disorder and had been inpatient there for a while (some months). At one point she fell and hit her head on the ground and none of the staff even moved.

About five minutes later, upon realizing that she still wasn’t getting up, the staff started to help her, including calling for medical assistance from outside the ward. Upon the imminent arrival of the medical team, one of the psychiatric team members rushed around distributing gloves, as if the requirement had only just occurred to someone. I can only imagine what other things they forgot.

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

Year(s) : 2012

NSMC Union Hospital

Name of Hospital: NSMC Union Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Lynn, Massachusetts, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: I was placed here involuntarily when I was 17. I’ve been to MANY hospitals but this is by far the worst.

I was here after (serious) a suicide attempt (transferred from ICU) during a snow storm. You would think that a mental hospital would have windows that were locked, bolted, barred. The window next to my bed was broken and could not close. I was not provided extra blankets.

For a while I was the only person on the ward above the age of 6 and one of the (male) nurses spent a lot of time in my room, telling me I was “not like the other girls” etc (because I was reading a book) and strangely enough, gave me several mouse puppets.

Worst of all was my psychiatrist. He insisted that despite my suicide attempt, that I wasn’t depressed or suffering from any mental illness at all. He took me off of all my medication (including benzos cold turkey) and prescribed thyroid medication. He insisted that I was only sad because I was OVERWEIGHT and that if I lost weight, I would be just fine. all it said on my discharge plan was: low calorie diet.

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

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

Year(s) : 2013

Holyoke Hospital

Name of Hospital: Holyoke Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA

Number of Stars: 4.5

Comment: Compassionate and kind staff; patient with me and with everyone I saw them interact with; considerate of my specific needs; physicians were respectful of my experience of myself and my illness; the food was okay; my meds were dispensed on time; I felt safe most of the time and when I didn’t feel safe a staff member spent time with me until I was more stable; possibly the best thing that happened was that the night staff were really compassionate when I had night terrors and would start screaming. I spent 6 days there and I would feel safe going there again.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): I went to both in-patient (6 days) and day program (3 days – there wasn’t anything wrong with the day program, it just wasn’t for me)

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: I’m a white, via-gendered, queer femme in my 50s. I’m disabled, low-income, and I have PTSD.

Arbour-Fuller Hospital

Name of Hospital: Arbour-Fuller Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: South Attleboro, MA, USA

Number of Stars: 1

Comment: Entire experience was horrific. My birth name was displayed on a large board at the front of the hall. I was strip searched upon entering. They insisted on watching me while showering or using the bathroom and I was put on extended suicide watch for literally no reason (I was following every rule to the letter and going above and beyond to prove I was “fine” because I wanted out. The entire staff was rude and horrible with pronouns and identity. Myself and others were denied medications and threatened when medications were asked for.

The entire place was freezing cold and some people had no socks. Staff told me horror stories about other patients to scare me. Multiple horror movies were shown in shared space regardless of whether or not people found it triggering. The food was beyond disgusting. I had to lie my way out of there because I was told by staff that I could be kept 6 months if I disobeyed them. An old teacher of mine’s husband quit his job there after hearing doctors talk about how suffering was a good thing for patients.

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

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

Cape Cod Mental Health Clinic

Name of Hospital: Cape Cod Mental Health Clinic – South Bay Community Services

City, State/Province, Country: Mashpee, Massachusetts, USA

Number of Stars: 2.5

Comment: Attended briefly while dealing with severe PTSD almost immediately following trauma. I was referred by an out-of-state therapist, and even though I told them during intake I didn’t have access to her during my stay, they made no attempt to connect me with a one-on-one counselor inside or outside the program. From what I experienced, you were sorted almost randomly into a room regardless of your issue. I was with other people with mental health issues and recovering addicts, which sounds fine but the activities they had us do almost never applied to both of us.

The days were broken up into sessions/classes that were supposed to have different focuses, but it ended up just being everyone chatting about nothing/television/chitchatting as staff handed us a pamphlet about addiction/habit-breaking/emotions. We’d read them sometimes. Most sessions were art therapy, where you’d just color. Never encouraged to do anything or participate.

Apparently they’d go on walks to Dunkin Donuts, but it was winter when I was there so we never did. Midway through the day was lunch, which was resident-prepared (I believe) and was almost always inedible. One day they literally just soaked rice with soy sauce until it was essentially soup.

Then more “classes,” and then I’d drive home. One male patient had a crush on me and would constantly bother me even when I was visibly uncomfortable, asking me about the trauma I was there for, and staff didn’t really seem to care or even notice. He also continuously disrespected my transgender identity and misgendered me loudly, and I literally watched staff witness him say these things, and they did nothing about that either.

At most, I guess it kept me from self harming from 9-5 for a few weeks. But I wasn’t sure what progress they were looking for from me, or how they expected to achieve it. I am also transgender and my pronouns were never remembered by staff, but no one was ever malicious or intently harmful about it or any other identities of mine. Overall not a horrible place, but definitely unhelpful.

Not too restrictive, residents could go outside and smoke. There were gendered bathrooms, but one gender-neutral bathroom tucked away so that was good. I did see my regular psychiatrist (outside of this institution) and was taken off SSRIs. This place made no attempt to help me when I started having awful withdrawal symptoms. I had constant headaches and was dizzy for weeks, blurred/double vision. Ended up crashing my car in a parking lot. They didn’t seem too concerned, not that they asked any questions about how I was handling the withdrawal or if I was withdrawing at all.

Type of program (i.e. day program, inpatient): Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Program

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