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

Seattle Children’s Hospital

Name of Hospital: Seattle Children’s Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Seattle, WA, USA

Number of Stars: 3.5

Comment: My stay at Seattle Children’s was infinitely better than my first hospitalization experience. While most hospitals operate under the assumption that you will use anything you can find to hurt yourself or others, Seattle Children’s assumes that you will stay safe until proven otherwise. You aren’t watched while you shower unless you try to hurt yourself in the bathroom, you’re allowed to use any and all writing utensils unless you use them to hurt yourself, etc.

There was a pool, a service dog (which was my favorite part of my whole hospitalization experience, she was a golden retriever and the sweetest dog ever,) and if anyone tries to bring you a notebook that’s somehow “dangerous,” they’ll provide you with a different notebook, which was incredibly helpful to me considering writing and drawing are usually my main coping mechanisms. They provide time to keep caught up on your homework, and they actually bring in a certified teacher to help whenever they can.

The lessons they do for coping mechanisms and such are helpful the first time, but after you hear the same coping mechanisms and lessons over and over again like I have considering I’ve been hospitalized many many times, it can get incredibly boring. The staff NEVER touches you unless completely necessary, and I never even once saw anyone get sedated—I actually had a panic attack there and they closed off the area I was in to let me be alone until I calmed down. They have very comfortable rooms that can have 1-2 beds in them, and I was only once given a roommate before I was open about being a trans man and bisexual.

After that, I was always given a room to myself, which I personally preferred, but another trans man there was disappointed he didn’t get to have a roommate. The food wasn’t amazing, but at least it was edible—unfortunately it gets mostly cold by the time the trays are brought to the psych ward, but I’ve had far worse food in my hospitalization experiences.

The staff is usually sensitive and kind, however the only reason I give it a 3.5 instead of a 5 is because after I was hospitalized after coming out as a trans man, they refused to call me by my preferred name. It’s understandable that my legal name was put on my bracelet and food, but they never even once called me by my preferred name or pronouns. I thought when I went in they would be sensitive about my gender, but at that point I was outed to all the other patients as a trans man and they started asking me incredibly invasive questions, and the staff never did anything to help me with that. It was so humiliating to be treated that way, and it wouldn’t have helped by much to pretend I was a cis girl.

I seriously wish the staff was more sensitive towards trans people, but that’s really the only major drawback to Seattle Children’s in my experiences there.

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 man

Fairfax Behavioral Health

Name of Hospital: Fairfax Behavioral Health

City, State/Province, Country: Kirkland, WA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: I was put in Fairfax hospital immediately after my first suicide attempt. I gave full consent to be placed in the inpatient program, thinking it would help me fight my depression. There were many sections of the hospital, and I was placed in the one for those under the age of eighteen. The only reason I give it a 1.5 instead of a 1 is because I know now there are worse experiences people have had, and at least I was capable of being completely submissive and hide my symptoms of PTSD (which I had not yet been diagnosed with.)

My parents brought a suitcase filled with my clothes and things to keep me entertained, but it was hours before I was allowed to change out of the embarrassingly tiny hospital gown I was given. (I’ve been given bigger hospital gowns in my life—the one I was given must have been for children far younger than me, it barely went down below my underwear, which thank god I was allowed to keep wearing.) They took all the strings out of my clothes, wouldn’t let me have my bras that had wires, and didn’t allow me to keep my book OR my sketchbook to keep me entertained during downtime.

When I was first admitted, I saw them forcibly sedate another patient and thrown into the “quiet room,” which taught me to keep quiet and be completely compliant. I later found the quiet room consists only of the frame of a bed, not even a mattress or pillows or anything, in the middle of an otherwise completely empty room. There were multiple staff members that refused to do lessons on coping mechanisms just because they didn’t “feel like it”, so we just sat in silence most of the time I was there. They forced you to be public and open about traumatic experiences in front of all the staff and other patients, which I had to suppress a panic attack over so I wouldn’t get sedated.

Staff members would come in in the middle of the night and pull blankets off of you and shake you awake to see if you were still alive, MULTIPLE times a night. Being touched against my will by strange men triggered my PTSD, so every night I was there, I had to fight back intense panic attacks so they wouldn’t hold me down to sedate me and drag me into that empty room. Fortunately for me, I was successful in hiding my PTSD the whole time I was there, so I never got sedated, but it was at LEAST three times a day I watched people I had become close to get dragged away.

When I voiced my concern as gently as possible about being randomly touched in the middle of the night, the staff member I spoke to actually MOCKED me. He made fun of me for being terrified of the men who refused to keep their hands off of me. On top of that, the boredom I experienced is a lot worse than it may sound. It felt like actual torture. For hours each day, we sat and did nothing.

The most I had to look forward to was a pudding cup for a snack—and that was all I felt compelled to eat considering the food wasn’t even up to food service guidelines. The ham was slimy, the bread was hard and I’m pretty sure I saw spots of mold, the food that was supposed to be hot felt like they just took it out of the freezer. I THOUGHT I was magically better after I left, but honestly, the extreme excitement and joy I felt was just a result of feeling like I was freed from being tortured, and I didn’t realize that until months later considering I tend to repress memories left and right.

Please, if you’re on this site looking for somewhere to send someone you care about, DO NOT SEND THEM TO FAIRFAX. The only way to survive is to pretend you’re not mentally ill, and even though I was successful in doing so, even after being sent to a better hospital for another suicide attempt later in my life, I’m still terrified of hospitals. Things will only get far, far worse if you’re put in Fairfax.

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

Any other identities/marginalizations (i.e. race/gender/sexuality) that could have influenced your stay?: Thankfully, I did not present as a trans man at the time. I have no idea what could have happened if I DID present as trans at the time, but it really couldn’t have been anything good.

News Articles on Western State Hospital

Name of Hospital: Western State Hospital

Location: Lakewood, WA, USA

Articles

Disability Rights Washington, “CMS threatens to cut funding at Western State Hospital,” October 2015: news release by DRW highlights Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concerns over patient safety, including medication dispensing issues, at Western State; see here, here, and here for further news on this subject.

KOMO News, “Assault on patient at Western State exposes gap in the law,” February 2016: Staff assaulted patient

The Seattle Times, “Western State Hospital Investigated over Photos of Patient,” November 2016: Nursing assistant had photos of a patient on their phone; hospital delayed in reporting to police and state department of health. Hospital was already under scrutiny by CMS.

The Seattle Times, “Western State Hospital Employee Charged with Molesting 4 Female Patients,” December 2016: Psychiatric security attendant charged with molesting four female patients after patients reported the assaults; a hospital supervisor was also suspended for ten days for not immediately reporting the abuse to their supervisors.

The News Tribune, “Worker convicted of fondling patients at Western State Hospital. Now he’s been sentenced,” March 2018:  The security attendant in the December 2016 article received a 2-year sentence.

News Articles on Seattle Children’s Hospital

Name of Hospital: Seattle Children’s Hospital

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Articles

Seattle Pi“Lawsuit describes string of sexual assaults at Seattle Children’s Hospital,” February 2015: Lawsuit alleges staff failed to notice and intervene as a patient repeatedly sexually assaulted another patient in the children’s inpatient unit; cites other similar assaults on public record

Fairfax

Name of Hospital: Fairfax

City, State/Province, Country: Kirkland, WA, USA

Number of Stars: 1.5

Comment: This was my first experience being hospitalized and I haven’t been hospitalized since, so I may have a low frame of reference for comparison. However, I found the experience to be very unhelpful. The only time I got to talk with someone about my experiences at length was during intake.

They immediately put me on Abilify without describing any of the side effects to me or what sort of medication it was. They also stopped giving me my Cymbalta which I had been taking before intake, which is renowned for its terrible withdrawal effects. I believe they gave me Cymbalta again a few days later after I complained about the side effects of stopping, but parts of my experience are unclear or forgotten due to my dissociative disorder.

Some of the staff members were friendly and compassionate, but it was overall understaffed. The only one-on-one time with a therapist was for about 15 minutes about every 3 days. Overall I felt very ignored by the staff. The day room where all of the group therapy was located was very small, everyone could hardly fit in there. Toward the end the low-quality beds and chairs of the facility made my chronic back pain so bad I couldn’t go to group therapy.

I didn’t learn any coping skills or receive any help for the 10 days I was there. When they released me I seemed to have ‘improved’ due to the restlessness side effect of the Abilify and mania. Any perceived ‘improvement’ was gone by the time the restlessness side effect wore off a couple of weeks later. Upon discharge I was assigned a male therapist after I had said I was only comfortable with women.

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

Fairfax Hospital

Name of Hospital: Fairfax Hospital

City, State/Province, Country: Kirkland, WA, USA

Number of Stars: 2.5

Comment: I’ve been both inpatient and done PHP(day program) at Fairfax multiple times. I’m going to review the inpatient and partial program separately as I have completely opposite opinion towards both programs.

The inpatient unit is way too understaffed, the last time I was there someone attempted suicide and nearly suceeded and probably would have if it wasn’t for the fact that their roommate woke up in the middle of the attempt. For every 40 patients theirs only about 3 nurses and 2-3 support staff. When problems arise the whole place just turns into utter chaos. The staff is extremely unhappy so unhappy that their’s actually a public Facebook page where they discuss safety concerns and how the hospital ignores them and treats the staff horribly. The doctors can be extremely rude. Nearly all their good doctors have left.

No real therapy happens, their are groups but the groups aren’t well run for the most part and extremely dry. I’ve seen them kick patients out who are self harming and contemplating suicide because their distractions to other patients putting the patient in danger. Don’t plan on any individual therapy sessions as that doesn’t happen there. The cost to be there is $3,000 a day, I’ve been to better facilities for an $1,000 an day with 4 therapy sessions a week, stellar group therapy, and double the nurses and triple the support staff.

The PHP on the other hand is a totally different world and I’ve had absolutely stellar experiences with their PHP and would recommend their PHP to anyone looking for an PHP as its the best one I’ve ever been to. Their PHP will typically have no more than 12 patients at a time and when they do have 12 patients they tend to split groups. Their doctor is not the same as the last time I went from what I’ve been told who left when she started a family but she was absolutely fabulous and extremely knowledgable and probably my favorite psychiatrist I’ve ever worked with. If she ever went into private practice I would definitely without an doubt hire her as my psychiatrist. I’ve heard really good things about the psychiatrist they have there now from patients whom been in the program recently.

A nurse they have there is also probably my favorite Fairfax nurse I’ve ever had, she used to work inpatient and was a great inpatient nurse. She’s extremely knowledgable and runs various groups including an nutrition group, as well as a very knowledgable medication education group. She’s also extremely easy to talk to and pretty funny, when ever we’d chat she’d always be able to make me smile and laugh even when I didn’t feel like smiling and laughing.

The therapist they have in the partial program are also probably the best therapist they have at Fairfax in my opinion, they run some great groups and the groups are very engaging. Also they do more individual therapy there than they do at inpatient and are much easier to speak to regarding any concerns.

So I’m giving Fairfax 2 1/2 stars which in other words 1 star for the inpatient program and 5 stars for the PHP program. It’s hard to believe both are owned by the same company as their inpatient is probably the worst inpatient I’ve ever gone to while their PHP is the best PHP I’ve ever gone to.

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