I have struggled with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for many years now, and unfortunately, have had the opportunity to seek psychiatric services at a number of hospitals. Forest View Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is my hospital of choice. It’s about a five-hour drive from my home, and definitely worth the trip. Here’s why.
Forest View Hospital is a private psychiatric hospital. All they do is provide mental health care. And they are good at it. Their staff includes psychiatrists, therapist, case managers, and specially trained psychiatric nurses. They provide training and education for local nursing students and provide training and education for therapists and other mental health professional from across the country. Forest View offers inpatient care and they also offer partial hospitalization. Patients that do not require 24-hour care can attend programming for six hours a day, five days a week.
Forest View provides general psychiatric care, treating condition like major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. They provide much more daily programming then the typical psychiatric unit in a general hospital. For instance, the last time I was hospitalized in a general psych unit, they offered two group sessions daily for patients, and that was it. At Forest View, they offer five or six group sessions daily.
Forest View offers some specialized programs in addition to general psychiatric care. For instance, they have a program designed to treat eating disorders. They can provide medical treatment for people with eating disorders if needed, like tube feedings and IV fluids and things like that. They have a registered dietician on staff that teaches classes in nutrition and runs therapy groups and does nutritional counseling with individual patients. They use a program called gentle eating, where patients with eating disorders are supervised carefully during mealtimes, encouraged to try new foods, and encouraged to engage in light, supportive conversation during meals to reduce stress associated with eating.
The reason I like Forest View so much is their trauma-related disorders program. It is a nationally recognized program designed to treat trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder. The trauma-related disorders program at Forest View provides education to patients about the nature of trauma, group therapy, experiential therapies like art and movement therapy, and individual therapy at least three times a week. Individual therapy is rarely provided in psychiatric hospitals and is pretty much unheard of in general hospital psychiatric units, but it is an important component in the treatment of disorders like PTSD and DID.
The staff can make all the difference in a hospital of any kind, and that is certainly true in a psychiatric hospital. While there are going to be a few bad apples in any bushel, I found most of the staff at Forest View to be professional, knowledgeable, friendly, helpful, and kind. Staff spends a fair amount of time with patients, rather than spending most of their shifts behind the nurse’s station as they do in some hospitals. The staff seems well educated about the disorders they are treating, including rather rare disorders like DID, which is not the case in many general hospital psychiatric units. Patients are treated respectfully.
As far as psychiatric hospitals and psych units go, Forest View is reasonably nice. There are several patient lounges, including a lounge specifically for trauma patients. Lounges are comfortably furnished and have televisions with DVD players, and there is a large supply of DVD’s for patients to watch. There are no single rooms, all patient rooms are doubles, but the rooms are reasonably comfortable. The bathrooms are small and the showers do leave something to be desired. You cannot adjust the water temperature and you have to push a button to turn the water on. The water then runs for a minute or so, then it shuts off and you have to hit the button again. The food is good, with a nice selection of homemade desserts offered each day, and they are happy to provide vegetarian entrees and accommodate other special dietary needs.
Forest View Hospital. http://www.forestviewhospital.com.