Read patients' experiences with the Sparrow Psychiatric ER here.
"March 2022: When I was taken to Sparrow's psychiatric ER, I could hear someone screaming. The nurse turned to me, laughed, and said, "Don't worry, he's tied up." I immediately knew that this was not a safe place for anyone in crisis. I was strip searched and had all my belongings taken (something I've never experienced in other psychiatric ERs), then left in a room for 8 hours, still in crisis. I wasn't allowed to call my parents because it was nighttime (it was nighttime the whole time I was there). I left more miserable than before."
"Fall 2019: I have struggled with self harm since I was 12. I had just relapsed significantly and needed stitches for a would I had self inflicted. I arrived and had to wait many hours before being put in the hallway and having to show my would to everyone else who could see it in view. The nurse was very ignorant and kept saying he couldn’t understand how a “beautiful young girl” could do this to herself. I felt violated and it was creepy as well. I was finally given some privacy when they put me in a room to give me 27 stitches. They asked if a med student could do my stitches with supervision and I felt pressured to say sure. It was very uncomfortable to feel like because it was a self harm cut in a easy to do area, I was practically an experiment to him. I had to spend around 2 hours convincing them I was not suicidal because there were very little people who understood self harm without suicidal intent. I went home feeling that I would never go back to them in an emergency. I also live with chronic health issues and have had to go to sparrow for those reasons, with the same horrible experiences almost every time."
"April 2021: I was placed in a room under monitoring by police, then when they left I was moved to another room and made to strip while someone watched. They didn’t turn off the lights and the bed was like a brick. The psychiatrist evaluated me was on a zoom call the whole time, I presume to show students how to evaluate someone."
"December 2022, November 2019: Horrible experience. December 2022 I was held at Sparrow for 29 hours. I was harassed by fellow mental patients with no repercussions, I had to sleep in a fold up chair most of the night until a bed opened up. It took my family over 8 hours to learn any information about me. I was deemed involuntary even though I checked myself in. I was given preferential treatment though because my family was so adamant in helping the process of finding me a bed at a mental facility. I know if I did not have that support the experience would have been worse especially given that I was coherent and cooperative throughout the process. There were police officers there who were supposedly helping keep people in line??? The whole experience was horrible."
"January 2021: One morning on January 2021, I was sent to the Sparrow ER after trying to commit suicide. They took my phone away but let me write some peoples phone numbers down before they actually took it away from me. I had a nurse sit in the room with me and watch me all night since I spent the night there. At around 6am they woke me up and brought me to another room where there was just a bed and a TV. It was terrifying being all alone there and not knowing when would I be able to leave. Next thing, they told me to get up and to sit on this stretcher where they tied me up against the stretcher so I wouldn’t “escape”. They told me that it was for my own safety. They put me on an ambulance and took me to the Psychiatric Hospital (St. Lawrence). They made me take off all my clothes and watched me stand there naked. They wouldn’t give me my phone too. They gave me some burgundy scrubs and would not let me wear my bra I had on because of the underwire. So I asked if they could give me one, and the nurse told me that it was a long process and pretty much told me that it was too much work for her which is insane because I had to walk around men (around 18-80 years old) just with my scrubs and no bra. I’ve never felt so violated and degraded before. After that, they told me that I was going to spend some time at the psych hospital for “a while” and that I needed to talk to a psychiatrist which was only able to speak to me the next day since it was a Sunday and he was off.
"February 2022: I went to the hospital after deciding with my team at CAPS I needed a higher level of care. I waited for six hours in the ER hallway before anyone with any psychology/psychiatry background saw me, and another three hours after that before they moved me to the psych area. While I waited in the ER hallway, I watched people bleeding in the hallways, stretchers coming in from ambulances. I tried not to look, but I was shoulder to shoulder with people who were in the ER hallway for mental and physical health emergencies. After I was moved to the psych area, all of my possessions were taken, including my phone. I was forced to change into scrubs that did not fit (they were falling off of me), in bathrooms that were flooded and filthy. There was no toilet paper for my entire stay. I was hesitant to use the bathrooms. I was placed in an armchair in a room with several other patients, separated by curtains. I struck up a conversation with one, who I realized halfway through the conversation was a man there after a violent confrontation with police who was actively flirting with me. I did not see any mental health professionals while in the psych area. As nighttime approached, the nurses told me we would be sleeping in the armchairs. I was extremely anxious. Eventually, a male nurse took me out of the room and placed me in one of the individual rooms, saying it was because he didn't want me (assigned female at birth) in that room with all the men in armchairs. I was denied my medication, and I was not given any information about what was going to happen to me next for many hours. I learned not to ask the nurses any questions, as I watched patients who were deemed "annoying" or "confrontational" get dosed with heavy sleeping medications. A girl who had been waiting in the ER hallway with me was dosed so heavily she slept for more than 20 hours. The bed, the scrubs, the pillows, and the lighting were extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. I had to leave my door open, which meant I did not sleep as I was kept up by other patients coming in, screaming, begging to be let go, begging for answers. I was a "good girl" and did not say a word to the nurses, afraid of being labeled "uncooperative". After the ten hours in the ER and an entire sleepless night sitting in the corner of the room (again, I did not speak to any mental health professional at all during this time, except for the psychologist who spoke to me for ten minutes in the ER hallway, and then put me on a psychiatric hold), I felt like I was losing my grip on myself. I had come in very determined to keep myself safe, and to make the most of my inpatient experience. After my experience at Sparrow, I had to use all my willpower to stop myself from begging to let me leave. I did not feel like any of the nurses or staff would care. I was finally transferred to an inpatient unit after 18 or so hours in the psych part of Sparrow. I still have crippling flashbacks about this experience - the fear, the sleep deprivation, the sound of screams, the nurses refusing to listen to or reassure patients. This was not my only traumatic interaction with emergency mental health care. I desperately wish I had gotten the care I needed, especially as I was there completely voluntarily."
"2021: People are waiting in the crowded hallway of Station D, in a holding pattern for the negligent incompetent CMH to come from the other side of town to determine eligibility for psych services and medication. Meanwhile they are placed in brown scrubs which indicates they are an elopement risk Sparrow relies on security guards instead of psych nurses and psych techs to help patients and always psychological fragile persons are placed in units in the hospital that are not appropriate for them. The nurses are relying on their knowledge from their psychology clinical in nursing school and not on continuing education."
"November 2022: I had a bout of self harm and went in to make sure I was okay physically. When I told the doctor I self-harmed, Sparrow immediately admitted me involuntarily and left me in a hall bed in front of a room with a restrained patient who would not stop screaming death threats for about 5 hours. Before they took my phone from me I called a family member and a security officer approached me to scold me for "calling for help" (which I was not doing). For 3 days I was kept in a windowless ward without any information about when I would be placed. I received no care other than meals and taking vitals. There was 1 phone for 5 patients on average which was only on for 10 hours a day and randomly turned off for hours-long intervals (I later learned that they would turn off the phone "if patients were having problems with it"). I heard one man say he had been there for over a week and was not being spoken to. I asked a nurse about the status of my case to which she snapped at me "we're not going to withhold any information from you". A family member works in mental health so she, with my consent, was able to get details about my case and relay them to me. Come to find out Sparrow was indeed withholding information from me: Sparrow was not placing me in a psychiatric care unit because my blood pressure was high to the point of "not medically stable". Being held suddenly and indefinitely in a windowless ward without any information and limited contact to the outside world certainly contributed to my high blood pressure! I approached the nurse with this information and asked for help. Until that point, no medication or intervention was provided to help me with my blood pressure. I was given a mood stabilizer which allowed me to be placed the next day. It's disturbing to me that I had to request this and that I had to recruit outside help to get information about my case. It's frightening to think about how long I would have been there if I didn't have access to an outside resource."
"It's been a full year since my traumatizing experience in the Sparrow ER. I had unbearable flashbacks to it while inpatient last month. My experience with Sparrow has made it exponentially harder for me to seek treatment."
"March 2018: I was 17 and suicidally depressed. At school one morning I was prepared to hang myself in the school bathroom and decided at the last second to go to the guidance counselor instead. I was failed by everyone involved in this entire situation but I will focus solely on Sparrow here. Upon arriving in the ER, I was immediately treated as if I could not be trusted. All questions were addressed to my mother, no one would speak directly to me the entire time I was in the ER. I was completely honest with all of the staff about my history of self harm and the details of what I had done and been planning to do that day, as well as how I was feeling in the moment. This was all immediately disregarded. I was accused of poisoning myself because of an off liver test and no one would take my word that I hadn't done anything of the sort, but I went along with it and drank the activated charcoal or whatever. I was moved to a room in the pediatric unit where I was not allowed any privacy whatsoever, I wasn't allowed to close the bathroom door, someone was in the room at all times. I was well behaved and cooperative for three days in which I was directly lied to repeatedly- told every single day that I could go home the next day, told that I had a variety of diseases, and then gaslighted when I was then told 'no one said that to you' whenever I tried to ask about it. I begged to be given any kind of privacy and was only threatened with having more of my privileges taken away in return. By the end of the week this had taken such a toll on my mental health, being sleep deprived and treated as sub-human, that I was screaming and crying in the hallway to be left alone, to go home, I wished I was dead in that moment more than I had the day I arrived. My spirit was broken and after that I stopped eating until they threatened to give me an IV. They also weren't consistently giving me my daily meds so my thyroid got messed up and this caused me issues at the inpatient facility I was shipped off to afterward (in an ambulance, fully bodily restrained despite me having calmed down and complied.) This whole experience is the worst trauma I have ever gone through and to this day still causes me significant issues, I struggle to trust healthcare providers with anything to do with my mental health and chronically downplay and lie to avoid being put in that situation again, which has made getting help when I need it a struggle- the worse I feel, the less likely I am to tell anyone. I also have panic attacks whenever I have to be in an ER for any reason now, even just to visit someone else. I will never forget how I was made to feel there, like a criminal prisoner or an animal."
"07/15/2019: I felt like a prisoner they took all of my belongings made my sons father leave me I couldn’t call my sons father to notify him of a admitting before being transferred to St. Lawrence campus!!!! They were very rude they discussed people’s private business loud enough for a wing to hear. The bed was a thin cot I had a thin scratchy blanket and they refused to keep my light on for me as I was a 18 year old scared women in a place I’ve never been before there was a man who seemed to be going through a very serious mental crisis that they tied down and I believe sedated with a shot he was scared as I can imagine. They are very wrong and unprofessional they need to be held accountable!!!!"
"April, May, October 2019: I was in the psychiatric ER for a suicide attempt. The medication I took, plus my mental state, made me do some things that were potentially harmful to myself. I was put in a choke hold by a security guard and restrained and medicated by staff; when I got to the psychiatric inpatient that I was being sent to I noticed my neck was sore and large bruises where found on my neck from being placed in a choke hold. I filled a complaint and got a letter basically saying he got a slap on the wrist and sorry."
"July 10-11, 2022: All of my personal items including my phone, clothes, shoes, and even a book I brought to keep me occupied were taken. I asked to keep the book and they told me I could not have it. I was left to sleep in a chair for the night because all of the beds were full. There was nothing to keep my mind occupied except for a TV that was shared by me and the other three people left to stay in chairs next to me. I arrived in the evening so I could not use the one phone they have available to the entire floor (only usable for a limited period of time). I had luckily contacted my parents before my phone was confiscated to let them know where I was. I was not given any self-hygiene products. I had to ask for a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a hairbrush. I was sat in this chair for 20 hours before my transfer, but the man next to me said he had been waiting in the ER to be transferred for almost three days."
"Spring 2023: What happened to my son was terrible. When they released him last week all I could think was he looked like a prisoner wearing those shower shoes, because his shoes were confiscated then stolen. (This is what I wrote on the review. Last week on May 9, 2023 my son was released from the clinic. When he came out he had a pair of shower shoes on his feet. I asked him where were his gym shoes (A brand new pair), that he wore when he was admitted. He said they told him they had misplaced them, along with two Vape Cartridges. However in checking his bag his other property was there. I really don't believe the property was misplaced. I think they have a thief working at the clinic, that's what I think. When you confiscate a patients personal property you are accountable for securing that property and returning it to the patient at the time of their discharge. There's no excuse what so ever for this to have happened. Maybe the clinic should look at how it processes and secures patients property. Patients expect to be cared for, not ripped off)."
"My wife encountered the same unprofessional treatment. Forced to remove clothing while the staff watched. Took all of her belongings and was not able to contact me. When she was able to contact me a staff member stood by her the entire time which made her feel uncomfortable to the point she was whispering to tell me how uncomfortable she was. She was scared to the point she begged me to come her. When I asked to speak to the staff member to ask why she was even in the ER psych ward, she was there for medical reasons they told me she was acting irrational so they sent my wife to a ward she shouldn't of been in she should of been admitted to treat her medically."
"2019: They took away all my clothes and underwear and marked down every wart and spot I had on my body, told me it was normal and all the psych wards do it every time and I know it was a lie because I've been in several around the state and never had such a humiliating experience or had to be completely naked. I told them I didn't want to be naked in front of them and they said I had to and didn't offer any alternative, I felt disgusting and wished I had just died instead of got help."
"1995-2002: Patients uninformed of their care plan (doubt they had a plan), ill—fitting “uniforms,” most staff would ignore questions, it was cruel, I felt like I was lost and disoriented from my treatment. One my most recent experiences was Sparrow NOT notifying my psychiatrist that I had been admitted."
"2019: I was admitted to the hospital for severe abdominal pain. At some point, the hospital gave up trying to identify the source of my pain. They stopped trying to control the severe pain. I was left screaming in pain for days. A nurse came into my room, sat in a chair next to me and started empathizing with my situation. I was crying and said I did not know how much more I can take. Within 15 minutes security came into my room and said they wanted my belongings. Phone, purse and clothing. They handed me a psych hold form. The next day a psychiatrist came in to assess me, looked at the form and said it wasn’t legal. He lifted the hold and my family took me to U of M hospital where I was treated for my abdominal pain and PTSD from Sparrow. I have not been to any sparrow facilities since and would not recommend it for anyone. I filed a complaint with Sparrows “patient experience” department and received a letter stating they found no wrong doing. I seen an EDMR therapist to process this trauma and still get triggered whenever I see a Sparrow emblem or a law enforcement officer/security guard."
"I was held down in Sparrow psychiatric ER after being strip searched."
"July 2020: [My experience was] horrible, I was forced to strip in front of staff who then went and took my private business and discussed it in front of everyone, HIPPA VIOLATIONS, I was forced to take medications or told I would never see my children again by their nurse (I have his name in my medical records) he then proceeded to threaten to inject medical restraints to keep me quiet. They refused for me to contact my family, and they would not communicate my medical information with my family, parents, I’m on full disability due to the nurses negligent actions and all that he got and everyone else that stood by and heard him abusing me did NOTHING. Don’t get me started on the security guard who laughed at me while I begged for help and begged to talk to a director of nursing or manager, and laughed and said I wasn’t allowed to. all the staff sat behind a desk snacking on snacks during Covid having their masks off coughing all over everything wrapping up in blankets while they sit there and talk down about all the patients. What did sparrow do after it was reported? Nothing. This place is an abusive place and their staff need to be held accountable, they had me so drugged that the facility that received me, couldn’t even communicate with me because I was too drugged from the medication Sparrow kept forcing on me. I cry about it all the time. I hate Sparrow because of it. And everyday I pray that the people who did this to me. Will have their license revoked or penalized so when someone in the future makes the same complaint, they revoke their licenses. When you make a rape victim strip in front of you, it can make the person feel so much worse. I didn’t have anything on me. Yet, she was making comments while I was taking my clothes off and I wish I could say I never felt so violated, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve felt violated by medical staff. They also take your phone so while they are abusing you you have no proof. Why take peoples phones if you don’t take them for every patient in your hospital? I don’t trust sparrow with anything, unfortunately they are the place that only accepts my insurance for emergency situations. Otherwise, I take my business to MSU."
"June 2018: Former sparrow employee. Two coworkers that didn't really like me in the department told a supervisor who thought the same that I was having suicidal idealation. I was sent to a room, surrounded by security, who walked with me and my manager to the ER. Doctor Gregory Fuller did not do a proper examination to determine if I was suicidal or not, he just walked in and said "You know why you're here? You said you were going to kill yourself." I was sent to St. Lawrence where I was released two days later without any psychiatric issues. But I'm afraid to ever seek therapy again. I lost my job because I was afraid to go back and HR investigated themselves and found no wrong had happened. I'm afraid to even go to a councillor anymore because who knows, maybe they know Doctor Fuller and will send me back to him."
"April 2023: It is unsafe, practically a prison. There's one working shower which floods the hallway if used. If other patients become violent or aggressive, nothing is done. Food arrives at random, people are held far longer than 72 hours in these conditions. There is one phone and staff refuses to provide numbers to patients of anyone even doctors or emergency contacts. Doctors do not actually see anyone but review cases with the nursing staff without patients being present."
"2018-2021: Staff refused to let me use the phone to contact my family. Nurses made fun of me during my mental state of psychosis in which I did not know where I was what was going on or happening and put me on so many drugs I was knocked unconscious for a few days to the point where I don’t remember anything at all."
"November 2021: After having a manic suicidal episode, I was left un-cleaned from the bodily fluid I had on me (such as blood). I was there for about a week and never given a toothbrush, new clothes, underwear, body wash or anything. The only clothing they gave me were about 3 sizes to big because “it’s all they had”. I had to wear that single same hospital outfit the whole time. They also took all of my belongings, therefore I could not contact anyone. Even my place of work. I was on constant video surveillance and I couldn’t even use the bathroom, let alone shower alone. Which how could I possibly worry about taking a shower when they treated me like I was there for fun. They gave me stitches and did not give me any care instructions for them. I didn’t know how long I needed to wait to shower, when I should get them taken out, etc, which resulted in me having them in for way to long. In result of that, I have larger scarring."
"2021: Stay far away from this place unless you want to be forced polydrugged with antipsychotics and have court orders placed on you. I was having an adverse reaction to medication and was misdiagnosed. I was a full-time worker with no history of depression and had never been on any type of depression medication until I went to Sparrow. I am now unable to work."
"2014-2016: I was able to get minimal assistance which came at great personal cost."
"April 2023: My 21 year old son, who is a student at MSU, took himself to Sparrow ER because he was having thoughts of harming himself and him being unfamiliar with what to do he thought that would be the safest place. He started not seeming as though his enthusiasm for school was going away ever since high school graduation in 2020. Covid, no graduation and the excitement for freshman year on campus was squashed. He shared with the ER doctor that he had unusual thoughts of harming himself and even though he didn’t want to hurt himself he knew how powerful the mind is wanted to be safe. The doctor went on to tell him that everyone has a choice in life including harming themselves. My son was shocked angered and saddened because of the comment she made. He is well aware of knowing to advocate for himself if things felt wrong. So he did, he told the nurse that came in after and requested a different doctor… what if he was more fragile and left feeling hopeless so he ends up doing irreversible damage to himself. Thank you for bringing attention to this."
"June 2022: I reached out to my Primary Care Provider who had me taken to Sparrow Psych ER. What an effing joke!!! I’m so pissed about how I was treated… I have high blood pressure AND major depressive disorder and anxiety. I was NEVER given ANY of my medications—glad I didn’t have ANOTHER stroke or heart attack!!! I was admitted into psychiatric ER at 10pm, and didn’t see a nurse until after 2an, when I asked 'what’s the deal? I need my medications.' I completely felt like I was a criminal, because that’s how I was treated. I’m absolutely disgusted with Sparrow Hospital! I will NEVER ask for help again."
"November 2021: The purpose for admission was “lack of sleep” and I was ultimately illegally detained and tortured. Let’s be clear. Torture is not medical treatment. No government immunity will shield wrongdoers from the punishment related to suspending peoples constitutional rights through forced hospitalization that subjects people to torture and forced drug abuse for which is billed as a service to Health Insurance plans and government funded programs. Check your medical bills to determine if the treating medical provider is associated with Michigan State University because the physician responsible for your forced hospital admission may actually be employed by Michigan State University and thus they will try to claim Government Immunity against any legal claim you bring against them. Also, your attorney must understand if MSU employees are involved to file your claim for damages in the court of claims for medical malpractice if your claim is malpractice. Just an FYI Also, I personally didn’t sign any consent forms for treatment. I was being threatened to sign a voluntary admission form. I was told signing voluntarily admit was my only option to be discharged. It was constantly reinforced by staff that I couldn’t be discharged without signing consent for treatment, which is ILLEGAL and insurance fraud. Failure to sign forms isn’t a treatable medical condition. I verbally expressed to several staff members that what they were doing was criminal HIPPA and insurance fraud violations punishable by imprisonment. I expressed my concerns about people being subjected to forced drug abuse. I was being strongly encouraged to try drugs by medical providers. Additional days of forced hospitalization were continuously added because I would not “take drugs”. Several of the patients told me “ Do not take the drugs they are trying to force on you because it ruins your life and cause addiction that is hard to fight when you finally are able to leave here”. The patients shared their stories with me about how they had to overcome drug addiction from the prescribed medications that were forced on them there and the pain and struggle that caused them. I told several resident students and doctors about the complaints of forced drug abuse and addiction. One doctor asked me for the patient’s names that were complaining. She then says “Sounds like they need some more DRUGS”. I then went on to explain that insurance companies were working on tools to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in the delivery of patient care services for mental health services. I explained that I had means to make sure SHE gets appropriately punished for insurance fraud and torturing me. She told me “if I wanted to be discharged I should think about my daughter”. My response, “you have to let me leave at some point and when YOU do you’ll have NO authority and YOU are going to be subjected to litigation for insurance fraud and defamation. Either you can sue me or I will SUE you for defamation”. She then says “I am not letting her leave here because she’s going to do that to me no matter if I let her leave here. I already signed my name on that form. I am done.”. She says “you have an IME scheduled? I am not letting you leave here. You can stay here and get a free IME”. My response “Okay, I will look at it as MOMMY is just gone on a business trip and I will get home at some point”. She then says “that’s a good way to look at it” with a very privileged and affluent cold hearted smug smile on her face. It’s very sad and absolutely horrible that a person would be so evil to earn 77 dollars worth of insurance fraud dollars. I truly hope she didn’t have to pay anyone a portion of her 77 dollars because she truly put forth great effort to earn it by subjecting me to elite torture. Meanwhile, I was billed around 1,000 dollars or more per night for facility charges for starvation as shown in my medical record and yes same one pair of clothes my entire length of stay in a dirty room where my pillow was full of someone else’s light brown hair. I had the same underwear the entire time. I used paper towels to wash my female body parts. I made several complaints about safety. I informed staff that it was too easy for females to be raped there and that more should be done to protect women, in general. I hoped that one of the social workers would have compassion as I told her I was going to start my period soon and I didn’t want to be there on my period because I was extremely dirty and needed to get home to wash and clean myself up. I told her I needed a bath or shower but even using the toilet was difficult as a male tech and others stood there while I used the toilet. She told me “don’t worry… They have to let you go.”. They didn’t let me go. Anyways, all the pure pain I feel each day isn’t for myself. I feel pain that no words can explain. My pain is for the failure of humanity. My pain is for all the people there that didn’t meet the legal requirements to be forced hospitalized. Humanity must be better than thuggish insurance fraud and being willing to destroy others for cash and bi weekly labor checks. I honestly don’t want any improvements from Sparrow Hospital whatsoever. I demand improvements from humanity collectively and entirely. If humanity rise to be better than…. ALL else will also rise to be better. I am sorry for all your pain. I see you. You are someone’s mother. You are someone’s wife. You are someone’s child. Everybody is somebody. Life is suffering usually and it’s horrible when others just add to one’s suffering especially for some paper dollars. Anyways, I am not allowing Justice to be blind to this wrongdoing. Humanity is better than this."
"May 2023: I was kept in a locked ward for the first few days of my visit (confined restricted I think it was) and not allowed to interact with other patients except at meal times. There was 1 other patient. One time I left my room to make a quick call to my mother. I returned and saw all of my bedding, the doors on my shower and bathroom (which were plastic and removable), and the cups of water I had all on the floor next to my bed. I knew I didn't do this, so I asked a nurse in panic. She said it was housekeepers but I didn't think most housekeepers did that. When I went to pick up the bedding off the floor I noticed my cups of water had been poured into the bedding, and all of it was soaked. I got the nurse again. She told me no one had been in my room, that it must have been me, and that if this freaked me out so bad I'd have to eat my meals alone without anyone around. This was the first thing that I experienced. I initially was taken to the ER for heart palpitations and shortness of breath. My chest xray and most of my blood work was normal but when my urine was taken it was extremely off in multiple ways. My caretaker told the doctors I had been suicidal recently (out of genuine love and concern) and they put me in psych ER, and no one addressed my labs. One ER nurse was sympathetic; she was a traveling nurse on her 4th day in the ER And told me that the ER was "unlike anything she had ever seen before." As time went on, and I was able to talk to other patients, I heard their stories. For their privacy I will not share details but there were multiple instances among multiple patients where serious physical health issues were ignored entirely. I'm also physically disabled and often have adverse reactions to medications. When I was having anxiety the first night, I was offered a recently discontinued medication I had tried, that ended up making me extremely sick and irritable. My psychiatrist told me to stop taking it immediately. I was also offered a medication that could dangerously exacerbate my tachycardia. When I explained this to the nurse, they told me to stop arguing and take one. I said no and was labeled non-compliant. I told them my psychiatrist I had been seeing for a year advised me to stop taking these meds, and was told that the doctor there, who hadn't met me once, knew better. My psychiatrist was once a resident at this hospital. Later I overheard a nurse talking to other nurses, possibly about me, saying 'It's like, I'm glad you feel comfortable talking to me, but I am not anyone's friend, I'm here to get paid.' Still I know that my experiences were not as bad as many others and I ache to hear their experiences."
"May 2018: I was treated horribly. In the emergency room I was reminded that how much alcohol in my system could kill me, which I already knew. I was coerced into signing myself into st Lawrence because I was 18. I wish I would have left then and there. I was strapped down to transport there, even though I was being compliant. I wasn’t given the option to call my family for hours and they had no idea where I was at. I was put in a room with a creepy male nurse who kept touching my knee and I had to ask for a female nurse eventually because he wouldn’t stop. I didn’t have shoes and they would refuse me new pairs of socks each day. I was creeped on by other male patients and nurses did nothing about it. So much more happened, I’m so glad people are speaking out."
"April 2023: The physical neglect at Sparrow was unreal. When I first came into the ER, the nurse messed up my IV and spilled blood all over my pants, and I was not given new scrubs. I came to the ER on an overdose and was checked on maybe twice over the course of three days, even while I was in the middle of my overdose and in a lot of pain. I only ever saw an actual doctor once. I was not allowed to brush my teeth, comb my hair, put on deodorant, or take a shower, so my hair ended up getting extremely greasy and knotted, and my mouth and skin felt dirty. I smelled so bad that I made myself gag. They would forget to bring me food frequently (they never bothered to offer me water), and even when I did bother them for it they would leave and not come back. The food that they did bring me was cold or hard, often with a strange film on it, and my milk was frequently expired. During most of my three day stay I was on a stretcher in the hallway. They only turn off one light at night, so I couldn’t get any sleep because they wheeled me directly under a light. Near the end of my stay, I was finally wheeled into a dark room where I could get better sleep, but I ended up being left there alone for 7 hours without any check up from nurses (mind you still recovering from an overdose). When EMTs arrived to take me to the psych ward one of them actually cussed out the nurses because of the state of neglect all of the patients were in, not just me. However, the most traumatizing experience was the things I had to witness and hear throughout my time there. It is probably the most terrible I have ever felt. My belongings were taken pretty much immediately so I wasn’t able to contact my family and friends before going in, and I wasn’t given the option. Staff would walk directly by me and not make eye contact with me. So naturally, me being in the hallway, I was focused on the other people around me to not go insane from boredom. In the hallway with me for most of my time was someone who was actively withdrawing from heroin. He screamed and cried the entire night and none of the nurses checked on him throughout that time, even when he was dehydrated and throwing up. I watched police officers physically assault multiple patients and call patients derogatory words. I overheard nurses make fun of and complain about a patient who was hard of hearing, and they would mock him using a funny voice. There was a patient who had tested positive for covid that nurses frequently let leave his room without a mask on. I was also in the hallway with someone who had also attempted suicide, and I remember him calmly asking a nurse about when he would be able to see the psychiatrist, because he wanted to know a timeline for his release. The nurse pretty much immediately started raising her voice at him and saying that he was getting aggressive (he wasn’t) and that “this is the point where we start injecting people with drugs and chaining them to the bed.” Nothing about his behavior suggested that he was getting aggressive with the nurses. Another patient who was there for a suicide attempt was yelled at by a nurse for “annoying” her when in reality all she was doing was asking questions about her release and what hospital she was going to be transferred to. It made the patient cry and hide under a blanket until she was taken away after she had previously been social with me because our beds were facing each other. The nurses also forgot to take away a wrist watch from another patient, and I watched him slice open his neck with it and smear blood on the wall next to me. I don’t think I will ever get that image out of my head. I don’t think I will get over hearing the screams from the other patients either."
"November 2020, March 2023: It was absolutely a nightmare. I was treated so bad. I cannot function properly anymore. But God has always held on to me through It all. Many, many, many years, 15 to be exact, in and out of mental health facilities all over Michigan and Chicago. Sparrow has always been the worst experience. This happened about 3 years ago, but recently in March. I had been violated several times by Sparrow St. Lawrence Behavioral Heath recently in March 2023, and Sparrow E.R. Behavioral Health In 2020 and now Lavata, Cival Rights, And Lara Is Involved. It's downright disgusting the way Sparrow [treats] their mental illness patients. It will all be revealed In due time, because God don't like ugly."
We asked: what would you like people to know before going to the Sparrow ER for a psychiatric emergency?
"Don’t go. Call around and find a mental health clinic that may be able to understand you better and help with possible transition to a higher level of care. If you have to go for your safety, please remember that you are worth so much more than the way you may be treated."
"They do not treat you with basic human respect."
"Go to literally any other hospital. Please, I didn’t have other options both times I had to go. But I want you to not go through the horrible experiences I have had and I have not had the worst experiences, that is the problem."
"This is not what every ER is like. Psychiatric ERs are never fun but generally, they are better than this. That makes Sparrow's standard of care even more upsetting: it's so easy to not be this terrible."
"Do not go there. It seems like it hasn’t improved since then."
"Do not. Please, if you have the resources and wherewithal, find a private place."
"If you are at risk, I highly recommend getting a psychiatrist that you trust and see semi-regularly. Psychiatrists can arrange voluntary placement at a facility before the crisis comes, allowing you to skip the horrible emergency room limbo."
"Willingly going to an inpatient facility to check yourself in will be less traumatic and you will be more trusted. Going to an ER will only get you mistreated."
"Be prepared to feel like you are going to be locked up and never to be free again they take all of your human rights."
"That the staff at Sparrow don't care at all about patients with mental illness , the have literal padded walls and the nurses who work on the psychiatric ER are on float and I've heard at least 6 nurses on various visits speak on how they hate working at the psychiatric ER. There are a lot nurses who don't care about mental health and few who do; thank you to the nurses who treated me with respect and empathy in my illness."
"Don't go. Go directly to an inpatient psychiatric facility or to another ER."
"Find a different hospital to seek mental health services."
"Don’t sign anything without a lawyer present, make sure you have a medical person that would handle everything should sparrow make you incompetent or unable to understand or sign. They also will shove many drugs on you that can make you have severe life threatening complications. Discuss with a family doctor as some of the medications can make things worse and Sparrow rushes you in and is only there to make money off of you. The staff doesn’t care because they are there for money, BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE!! Make sure you have someone with legal power of attorney shall you not be able to advocate for yourself. Especially since the drugs they gave me almost killed me and took me away from my family. Insight counseling services in grand ledge has virtual, as well as in person services and they are honestly the best I’ve ever sought."
"Go to another city. The ride may even calm you down. They will not treat you well at Sparrow."
"Do not go if you can possibly avoid it. It's unsafe and will worsen your mental condition."
"Do not go to Sparrow—go to a different hospital for treatment."
"You will be treated like a second class citizen and not properly treated. Don't go if you have other options."
"We shouldn’t be scared to get help."
"Your insurance company maintains a list of online service providers you can see via Zoom."
"For me I had to keep trying different options and not give up hope, it took years to get appropriate help. The sad thing is that not everyone can survive mental illness long enough to get the help they need in such a challenging and hostile environment."
"If it doesn’t feel safe speak up."
"Run the other way!!! I feel like so many resources were wasted…especially my medical insurance being billed for this BS!"
"Employees are just people with [temporary] jobs; they don’t have any authority to hurt and harm you and you have a legal right to call 911 and report whatever you think is a crime."
"If you are admitted, you may find that the other patients will help you more than the staff will. In my case my recovery was entirely due to one very kind patient. This is obviously not the case all the time, but I feel it's important to share."
"Don’t go unless you want to be in a worse mental state than before."
"They do not care about your mental health there. They do not want you to recover. You can be the “perfect” patient and still get treated like a piece of shit. They don’t even bother treating you like a human being - dogs get treated better than patients in the Sparrow psychiatric ER. It was easily one of the most degrading and dehumanizing things I have ever experienced."
"Be very careful what you say, because they live for signing petitions on mentally ill patients. That's how they take advantage of your insurance. It all falls under the same umbrella. Healthcare. They keep the money in the healthcare family. It's a never ending, revolving process. And everybody getting rich, while your health is getting poorer. It is designed to rob, steal, and kill."