Hi folks, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been really busy. Anyway, I’m shooting off an e-mail today and I’m making it public. I didn’t put the name of the person I’m sending it to in the title of my post to avoid the Big Google machine.
I’d like to know from those of you who have been to Alcott (Walden Behavioral Care, Waltham, MA) recently:
Are they allowing you telephone privacy? Do they let you have privacy on the phone if you ask for it? Do they point out to you that you have this right under law in all cases and that everyone has this right no matter what the situation is? Or is it only in “special cases”?
You are allowed a confidential call no matter whom you are calling. It doesn’t have to be your therapist or your lawyer or a “special situation” and you do not have to be a certain age. It can be your friend or your sister or your voicemail.
The only way they can say “no” is via a doctor’s order, and legally they should not be monitoring phone calls unless there is a doctor’s written order saying so.
I’d like to know if the Alcott Unit is following the law, and I have no way of knowing unless you folks let me know.
Anyway, here’s the e-mail:
It has been a month since you phoned me and said paperwork regarding the telephone rights at Alcott was being assembled and sent to me. However, I have received no paperwork from you or from the hospital.
For the entire time I have had this case open and running, paperwork has been lost, forgotten about, misplaced, not sent, and disregarded. At first, I was surprised that this kept happening, but after a while, I told myself that “stigma” is part of life. As a mental patient, I am on the bottom of the totem pole, and I have to fight to be heard. This has been the pattern of my life since I became a mental patient over 30 years ago.
Are these Five Fundamental Rights meant to protect us and allow us respect and decency? Or are they merely there on paper, lip service only, meant to keep us happy and shut us up? There are gross human rights violations on every psych unit in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have seen these things happening and I am not an army of one. I have a masters degree in creative writing and have written articles and books about these violations, past and present.
Are the people in our state government who are supposed to be protecting the rights of mental patients really doing their jobs?
I am going to find out.
So, I haven’t sent off the e-mail yet. Wish me luck.
Some background info, for those of you just popping in:
The Alcott Unit is an eating disorders unit. It’s like a psych unit only specialized and has very, very restrictive rules. The population is different. Younger and just about all female. Yeah, I know, the ED population isn’t all female but that’s who ends up there. These are scared kids and they want to phone home, but guess what? The phones aren’t private, they are in the hallway where everyone can listen in on your calls, including staff. Of course, it’s deliberate. They want to keep you under their watchful eyes and ears.
However, the law states that we mental patients are allowed confidential phone calls. Hall phones without any enclosures are not lawful. I petitioned for enclosures again and again and was turned down.
There is no medical reason to deny telephone privacy, none whatsoever. The staff want control over the patients and they don’t want the patients yammering to their parents, friends, and spouses about how bad the care is there. They don’t want information about mistreatment and neglect leaking out. That’s the real reason. That’s the reason on many units.
Any patient who poses a threat to the unit (like me) the unit will not treat, will mistreat, or will discharge. That’s life, I guess. That’s reality. I do what I have to do to survive, and they are a business, doing what they have to do to survive.
Back in Feb 2012 the only reason I ate at all (and survived) was because I promised if I ever got over this goddamn eating disorder, I’d make the world a better place for the starving kids of this world. Never mind whether I’m over my ED or not. I just don’t have time to wait for the Prophet Elijah. Fuck, I’m doing it. I’m doing it. I’m doing it.