Restraint and Seclusion (Part II)

                                  Restraint and Seclusion Study

                                  Consumer Mail Survey (Continued)

“I had the opportunity to attend activities or groups at least 3 hours per day.”  False.  Days went by without activities or groups.  From the phrasing of this question, should I assume that somewhere it is written that you are supposed to have three hours of activities?  I got nothing.  Day after day.  No individual therapy, no group therapy, no cooking class, no current events group, no activity.  Nothing.  And then there was Trudi, who got even more nothing than I did.     

“I was given choices about the activities I attended.”  False.  I begged to be allowed to go to activities but was denied.  I was told my doctor hadn’t ordered it.  When I asked for my doctor, she never came.

“I felt the activities/groups helped me get better.”  As previously stated, there were no activities or groups and I got worse.

“I was able to go outdoors every day for at least one hour (weather permitting).”  False.  I was not permitted to go out at all, weather or not.

“I was able to physically exercise three times per week.”  False.  I had a broken leg, but nobody else got any exercise either.

“If I had a problem or a question about my treatment, staff helped me.”  I wanted to know why I wasn’t getting any treatment; the staff told me to ask my doctor; I asked for my doctor but she never came.

“I helped choose my treatment goals.”  False.  I was done unto and had neither choice nor opportunity to discuss it.  To the best of my knowledge, there were no treatment goals for me.

“If my treatment or medications changed, a staff person explained the reasons to me.”  Mightily false.  I went to get the medication on which I am maintained outside the hospital and was told by the med nurse that it had been discontinued; to this day, no one has explained why.

“Staff did not talk about my treatment in front of other patients.”  True.  I was receiving no treatment, and the absence of treatment was not talked about.

“I could say ‘no’ to medications, and staff would respect my decision.”  I was not permitted to say ‘yes’ to medication.  During my previous hospitalization, the doctor put me on an appropriate antidepressant; during this hospitalization, it was denied to me.  Further, the antidepressant was also the treatment for a bad case of fibromyalgia; when I requested it for that purpose, I was told by the doctor that I would have to take care of that outside the hospital.  I was not allowed outside the hospital.

“The purpose and side effects of my medications were explained to me.”  Nothing was explained to me; I already knew my meds and their side effects.

“Medications were not used as punishment.”  I felt that withholding medication was punitive.

“If I objected to my treatment, staff listened to my concern.”  I objected strenuously to my lack of treatment.  I particularly remember one aide listening thoughtfully to me then asking me some questions, then sitting shaking her head.  I was asking that I not be discharged without a therapist.


“If I was placed on restriction, someone explained why and how I could get my privileges back.”  I was not placed on restriction; I was on the massive restriction of no passes; no one explained how I could get passes.

“I was told what I needed to do to leave the hospital.”  False.  I was told nothing.

“I was aware of the availability of Mental Health Legal Services to assist with my legal rights.”  True.

“I could attend religious services or meet with clergy of my choice.”  True.

“During a hospital stay for psychiatric care, have you ever been . . . ”

Placed in seclusion?  Yes.

Placed in a camisole?  No.  Why don’t you call it what it is, a straightjacket?

Placed in a full sheet restraint?  No.  I was told that was illegal in this state.

Placed in four-point restraint?  No

Placed in a vest, chair, or bed restraint?  No

Other restraint?  No

“If yes to any of the above . . . ”  It was a quarter of a century ago and I’ve forgotten the details but I was put in seclusion because I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome.

Despite my written request, neither Commissioner Clarence Sundram nor anyone else from the NYS Commission on Quality of Care ever responded to my “Notes on a Hospitalization” or any other thing.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in Inpatient psychiatry, mental illness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Restraint and Seclusion (Part II)

  1. Clarence Sundram says:

    Dear Anne:
    I don’t know how you came across this survey. It was used by the NY Commission in 1995 as part of a study of practices in NY facilities. A report of the findings was published that year. The survey was a time limited one, and I doubt is being still used. (I left the CQC in 1998.) I came across your posts by accident and found them compelling reading. I hope you are in a good place now.


    • annecwoodlen says:

      N.B. It only took Clarence Sundram, commissioner of Quality of Care, 17 years to reply to me.

      I “came across” this survey when you sent it to me after I was hospitalized at NYS Hutchings Psychiatric Center. You published the findings? Why didn’t you send me a copy? I replied to your survey; I was a contributor. Didn’t I matter to you? Who did matter? Who did you send the report to?

      This survey was part of a piece I wrote about Hutchings back in the 1990s. I wrote it to externalize the pain of the trauma inflicted on me by state hopspitalization. I had to wait for more than 15 years for the Internet and blogs before I had a chance to publish it–unlike you, who got to publish your report in the same year.

      You’ve retired; I’m guessing you’ve left behind all the stuff you did at the office. I, on the other hand, live with the trauma every day. I have recovered from depression; the unforgivable inhumanity of state-sponsored psychiatric treatment is something from which I apparently never will recover.

  2. thermacuts says:

    Excellent article i am sure that i will come back here soon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s