I was admitted on Nov 29, 2013 and held until after great efforts to be released on November 5, I was there ostensibly to detox from wine drunkenness in my home and reported to police through 911 so was Section 12 admittance. This means I was there for observation that I was not a harm to myself or others.
The hospital needs to be investigated by the state board which certifies such places and by the insurance carriers who pay this facility to administer substandard and potentially harmful care to locked in patients.
The facility: small, overcrowded, filthy bathrooms and filthy kitchen facility. Often 1 or more of the only 3 bathrooms are not functioning. For 18 beds (male/female) on same floor in close proximity, often there were only 1 toilet functioning or 2 sinks or 1 cold shower and 1 shower with standing filthy water. Patients (many zombified thorazine and haldol patients) leaving the conditions disgusting. Some of the broken sinks were direct sabotage by patients and were not fixed all weekend.
The facility has poor security procedures for handling exit from building in a fire emergency. We had a fire event at 6am one morning this past week where all of us were herded into the stair well of the 2 floor building. We waited for over 20 minutes uncertain of the status. There was only one exit from the stairwell which led to the small chainlink locked fenced area - 20 foot fence with overhang like a prison to prevent scaling the fence. The yard had a large door at one end which was securely bolted. Had we need to leave and move away from a potential explosion, it would not have been feasible. A fight also broke out amongst patients on the floor above such that the decision was made to separate the fighters by putting the aggressor in the stairwell with us in our group. The second floor (not a locked unit) was evacuated outdoors to the open area where they could be further from the building. The priority for my floor of the locked ward it was apparently determined that the critical priority was that we not escape over whether we could reach safety.
The staff is a mixed bag. The doctors are unqualified for such a facility as for example my assigned psychiatrist was a Forensic Psychiatrist. He was referred by one of the STAFF members to me as "the drive-by doctor". In my 6 days, I met with him 3 times for not longer than say 5-7 minutes and was expected to speak when spoken to without elaboration. The nurses were particularly cool about taking whatever drug protocol and insisting it be administered. While drugs may be refused, there is a huge pressure to just accept them. Most of the unfortunate patients were in scant shape to make reasoned arguments for refusing. I was fortunate to know that my Alcoholism relapse of a rather mild nature did not necessitate a 4 day 3x per day dose of Ativan. The medical guidelines for treating some addicted with one substance is not to prescribe another addictive substance. I refused the Ativan protocol, but was treated with contempt for not accepting it. Librium is almost always the detox (2-3) days for even extreme inebriation.
My stories of the zombie like thorazine and haldol medicated patients could go on and on. One patient was given penicillin without having checked to discover the patient had a severe allergy to the med. He developed a fever of 102-103 and blood pressure of 94 over 54 within hours. He was not sent to a hospital but given Tylenol and told to rest. We patients were really concerned for this nice and funny guy.
Safety from patients. Many instances but the most extreme the day I saw was a very large female patient off her meds at an outdoor break go to the chained down screaming to escape, rattling the fence violently. The monitoring MHC was a very good, but smallish woman, half the size and strength of the patient. She was very professional and unafraid to stand with the patient to talk her from her rage. Before any of the rest of us could anticipate to protect her, the patient hauled off and slugged her with her fist right on the side of her face. She stood her ground calling for security which honestly did not immediately occur. This same patient had verbally frightened me on several instances (I'm a small 60 year old) but seemed to have lost interest in me after some newer arrivals.
Patients have only a room with 3 roomates, a day room/dining room/ TV room all in one - TV is ALWAYS on luodly - game shows, sitcoms and basic other garbage. There are no other 'facilities' - a so-called tiny Quiet Room which also has a TV. I was told I could request the room for meditation or yoga or just quiet but I considered it ill-advised to make enemies of a patient getting booted from watching their game show.
There are NO AA/NA meetings, NO group sessions, No one-on-one counseling. There may be on a given day 1 or 2 Art sessions or Occupational therapy. As sad as that may sound, I give major kudos to those outside agents who are willing to come in with their own supplies and provide some respite and some diversion from the despair in the place.
Some of the MHC - folks were the friendly, helpful, energetic, compassionate and professional people in the building without whom the week or weeks long stays of people would be downright like being in a prisoner of war camp. Thank you ladies and guys - if you have a loved one incarcerated there, encourage them to befriend these kind ones who will help you keep your head.
I am still stressed because I do feel concern for some of the patients left in there who I know are battling this especially on weekends when it is basically just meds and TV.
If you find yourself here or are trying to assist a loved one - immediatelty sign the 3 day protocol to force a decision to release by day 3 (or get a court to extend). Family and friends and supporters -- you can help more by getting on the phones to the doctors directlty, the social workers directly and insist that you want your loved one out or moved or transferred to another program.
You must be a strong advocate to be discharged or you will simply languish from day to day with vague promises that "If all goes well, you will be out soon" Pin them down on what it is that constitutes something NOT 'going well' so it can be avoided. Also -- don't accept vague words like 'soon', end of week, and that you need to be 'observed'
Because, you aARE being carefully observed, noted and written up for everything. If you can, put a total clamp down on the natural tendency to use swear words out of anger or frustration.
And listen, watch the problems, and when you are released, write them up, make the effort to shut this place down.
Trust NOTHING you are told without verifying it with the support you have on the outside.
Good luck, God bless You. I am committed to seeing that this institution is either totally overhauled or shut down.
I am still feeling somewhat emotionally dazed and bothered by nightmares that I am back in my Emerson 1 bed right outside the TV blasting day room.
by EE Group Leader
December 07, 2013