If you have read any of my blogs before, you know that I am a mental health advocate and tell it like it is. After a deep depression for 6 1/2 months, I became hypomanic so I voluntarily committed myself to a psychiatric hospital called Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services. I would have to say that it was one of the nicest places I have ever been. Most of the staff treated the patients with respect and things were handled correctly for the most part. This was refreshing compared to other psychiatric hospitals I have been to. They also had a patient advocate who was very responsive to any complaints. I was also able to see the supervisor which is something extraordinary.
I have been in many hospitals for medical and psychiatric reasons over the past 35 years, but the worst was the psychiatric floor at Novant Health in Winston Salem. I have been there for pancreatitis and a hysterectomy and treated with respect and got very good care. The opposite was the case when I was admitted to their psychiatric floor. The food was ordered from a different place and was disgusting, the rooms were not clean, the beds were so uncomfortable that my back hurt, and the almost all the staff treated the patients like we were caged animals. When I contacted the patient services and supervisors via email, filling out contact forms, filling out a survey, snail mail, phone calls and even a personal visit, things went nowhere. I did not even receive a letter. This was not the case when I contacted them after my other two stays for medical reasons. This proves to me that they are discriminatory and I have witnessed many times that I was treated like an an animal and disrespected. This includes a time that I was there for pain and vomiting and was told by a nurse that I was not in pain, I was crazy.
Going back to why I plan to sue Old Vineyard: I hate to do it as I stated earlier it is one of the better places I have been.
I voluntarily checked myself in and was first put on a floor run by Keshavpal Reddy, MD. He never met me and prescribed medications. My regular doctor who I had seen for years was on another wing and I just spent one night on Dr. Reddy’s floor waiting for a bed on Dr. Thotakura’s floor who has been the best psychiatrist I have ever seen. Unfortunately, when I moved floors, I did not get a bed for several hours so all of my stuff was put behind the nurse’s station. I had no place to go for quiet time and anything I needed from my stuff I had to ask a staff member. The staff was not friendly and acted like it was an inconvenience anytime I needed anything. I did not ask very often. I would stand by the desk patiently waiting and no one would recognize that I was there. After about five minutes, I would politely ask, may I please have such and such. They would then treat me poorly. I was disappointed because the floor I had just come from was so nice and refreshing. I found out later that they were totally slammed and I soon started to like the floor better, especially after I saw my doctor. There was one staff member who showed no compassion whatsoever and I was not the only one who had a problem with her. In fact, several of the patients asked for her to be fired. I know her name, but have decided to withhold it because she did explain later that she did care. Of course, later, she proved the opposite once again, but I will go into that later.
Soon after I was admitted, I started having pains in my abdomen, was nauseous, and even vomited. I was given meds for it, but when it got too bad, since it was not a medical hospital, they transferred me to a local hospital for treatment. It was during a snow storm and therefore, no one in my family could come be with me. After being discharged, I had to wait several hours to be picked up by a van (It was a van being used to pick up staff for the hospital due to the snow.) While waiting, I started getting sick again so I went back through the ER and was finally given the right treatment and was released. I was picked up by the person I mentioned earlier who was rude and other patients wanted her fired. Not once did she show compassion. She did not talk to me at all including asking me how I was feeling. Good grief is all I will say about that.
Later, while still at Old Vineyard I still had problems and wanted to go back to ER as my pain level was 10 even though I was on percocet. I also was extremely nauseous again and the zofran, an anti-nausea medicine was not working. I asked to please go back to ER. My doctor was unfortunately not on call. He had said when I met with him earlier that he was hoping I would be admitted to the hospital as the Old Vineyard was not equipped to help me and I was more medically sick than hypomanic (the reason I admitted myself).
The doctor on call was Dr. Reddy, who I previously already mentioned. Without seeing me, talking to me, or examining me, he decided not to let me go back to the hospital. Luckily, I was able to finally go to sleep despite the pain.
The next day, I complained to the patient advocate, but nothing was really done. When I was discharged, I immediately went to the ER and they determined I had ulcers, was extremely constipated and had gastritis. I am still waiting to have an endoscopy to see if anything else is wrong. Dr. Reddy is the doctor I plan to sue as he caused me to suffer in pain.
The reason I plan to sue the hospital is this (and like I said previously, I hate doing this as they are a good hospital):
One of the complaints I told the patient advocate about was that the shower did not drain right and the whole bathroom would flood. I told her that it was hazardous and I was afraid my roommate would fall. I figured that other showers were designed the same way and was hoping that the hospital would eventually remedy the situation.
While taking a shower, I ended up slipping and falling. I had just turned off the water and was putting my shampoo and conditioner back into the box. (They do not allow you to keep it in your room-common practice at psychiatric hospitals). Somehow, and I am not sure exactly how, I ended up on the floor landing hard on my butt, making my back hurt. I yelled to my roommate to get help. Help came and all they did was put a band on my wrist that said “fall risk”. I was not asked if I was okay. I later went to the nurse’s station and told them that I fell and needed something for my back as it hurt from the fall. They really showed no compassion and a supervisor was never called to check me out or to see why I fell.
That night, I got to where I was nauseous again and had abdominal pain that the percocet would not help. Let alone, my back hurt from the fall. I asked that an ambulance be called and was told that they would not do it. So, somehow, although they make it almost impossible to call out on the phone to call 911, I somehow did it. I actually talked to someone and I am sure there is a recording of it. I then went into my room thinking they would arrive as I gave them my room number and even told them that the hospital would not call probably because they did not want to get sued because I had fallen in the shower. I do not know what happened after that as somehow, thru the pain, I was able to fall asleep.
The next morning I decided not to mention the pain or ask about the 911 call as I then decided that I was going to try and sue the hospital. I am hoping that a lawyer will pick up my case. I did call a supervisor (Her name was Leah) and showed her the shower and she said she saw the problem. I also wrote up a complaint for patient advocate and placed it in the box entitling it Law Suit. I have not heard anything from the hospital.
I am still medically sick and have an appointment with my GI doctor today, but as soon as I start feeling better medically, I plan to call a lawyer.
This is not the first time that something like this happened to me. Another time, when I was living in Florida, I complained about pain and was throwing up. A doctor came and examined me and said I did not need medical attention. Two days after I was discharged, I had my gall bladder removed. I tried to get someone to listen to me then and nothing ever came of it. In fact, I ended up with a $6,000 bill (I had insurance) because they had made a mistake and sent me from the medical hospital to a psychiatric hospital that was not covered by my insurance. I had to pay that and wrote to everyone I could think of (including the President of the United States) and nothing was ever done. I do have to mention that several years later, I got a check in the mail for $3,000 and not really sure why they finally decided to refund some of the money.
I do have to also mention here that I have written to my state representatives, all governors, all Congressman, the President, not just by filling out forms and emailing them, but in many cases hand delivering them and/or sending them certified mail. I have only heard from about 6 governors. The letters were not about the hospital stay. They were more general about how the mentally ill are treated in America and how I had some solutions. When the debates were going on from the recent election, I wrote to all the campaigns asking them to talk about mental illness and they never did. I even went to a rally for Ted Cruz and personally delivered a letter and never heard anything. I also personally delivered a letter to a campaign office for the then candidate President Trump. I was never contacted and as you know, mental illness, although a serious problem in the United States, is never talked about unless there is a tragedy.
Please check out some of my blogs that deal with my mental health advocacy: