I was admitted to/sentenced to Holliswood Hospital in July 2010. I was in the ER because I told my psychiatrist that I was planning to commit suicide and, when asked if I had any preference as to what psych hospital I wanted to be sent to, I immediately requested Holliswood because they had/have (I'm not sure if it's still considered a program because I don't see it on their site, but I know that it used to be) what seemed like a pretty comprehensive treatment program for post-traumatic stress, that I had actually looked into prior to this forced hospitalization. Here is my plethora of complaints:
- When I got there, I was told that the entire trauma treatment program which they so proudly spoke of included a session with a psychologist trained in treating post-traumatic stress once a week. To make that even better, it was never actually arranged for me to meet with this psychologist, despite the fact that the hospital was not only aware of my diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because it was on my intake form, despite the fact that I specifically requested to meet with him, and despite the fact that I was promised that that would happen.
- The incompetence of the staff was beyond unbelievable. Luckily, this didn't happen to me, but many of my friends on the unit complained about being given the wrong medications, and then having to fight with staff to convince them that they weren't the proper medications. My social worker, who, according to the information I was given prior to admission, I was supposed to meet with every day, saw me once, for around ten minutes. She asked me why I was feeling suicidal, and I gave a very vague and incomplete answer, because it wouldn't have been so easy to just blurt out, "Because I was raped yesterday, after dealing with several previous rapes and years of sexual abuse." When I didn't answer quickly, she just said that we'd talk about it another time. That was the extent of my relationship with the social worker who was supposed to be working with me every day. Throughout the entire time I was there, only one staff member figured out what was actually going on with me- a wonderful art therapist, who is the only person in the entire hospital who I cannot complain about. Nearly every patient on the unit knew what was going on with me, some who I told, and some who just figured it out, but the overwhelming majority of the staff didn't even bother to ask what was wrong.
- There was absolutely no individual attention or treatment. Patients who wanted to see their doctors or social workers literally had to pester the staff, sometimes for days, just to spend a few minutes with them. I was apparently one of the luckier ones on the unit, as it only took me six or seven hours to get around fifteen minutes with a staff member.
- Some staff practices were just plain inhumane. All bathrooms were locked and needed to be opened by a staff member which I don't agree with, but I understand. My problem is with the fact that the staff complained every time they had to open up someone's bathroom or, sometimes, made them wait a pretty significant period of time to have the door opened. It got to the point that I stopped drinking water for certain portions of the day, just because trying to get in the bathroom was so miserable and it felt so degrading for someone to give you an attitude about the fact that you need to perform a basic bodily function.
- There was absolutely no opportunity to get fresh air of any kind. I heard that that was a privilege you could "earn," but I feel that it's unbelievably inhumane to keep people locked in a hallway for days or weeks at a time. There are ways to safely take unstable people outside. That's one of my lesser complaints because I don't think it's done with ill intent, just that it's inhumane and stupid that they can't figure out a way to get everyone some fresh air, as they did at a previous hospital I was at.
- The rules were completely inconsistent and changed on a whim, often with little consideration for patients' rights and well-being. Weekends being boring is pretty much a given in a psych unit, but generally, hospitals will at least make different forms of entertainment available to you and have a group or two every so often to make sure that everyone's alright. There were no groups, and the many games and other forms of entertainment that were available were only available for an hour or so per day, max, when it was the specific "right time" to use them. Anyway, on the Saturday that I was there, in an attempt to not sit around all day and think about terrible things in my life, I tried very hard to keep my friends and myself entertained. We created unique games, using assorted objects as balls and different other random objects as goals, created playing cards through the annoyingly slow process of drawing each one out and ripping it out of a piece of paper, and we taught each other songs we liked and sang them together. The next day, we went out into the hallway, expecting to, once again, try to amuse ourselves in any possible way, when the obviously well-qualified staff supervising the unit told us that we all had to stay in our rooms for the rest of the day, straight-out telling us that they didn't feel like supervising the hallway. Stuck in a tiny room with next to no entertainment except for during the immense adventure of leaving the hallway to get our little trays of food- sound like jail, anyone?
I'm not a fan of psych hospitals, to say the least, but if you have to be in one, I think you have an absolute right to be treated humanely, not have the hospital lie to you or misrepresent their services, and get treatment from qualified people who can help you actually get through the problems that caused the hospitalization in the first place. If you're thinking of hurting yourself and need this kind of supervision, trying committing a crime and going to jail- you'll get better treatment.