July 09, 2007

State Psychiatric Hospital "A Disgrace"; New One Proposed

Eastern State, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Lexington, Kentucky (U.S.A.) has been called "a disgrace to our state" by executive director Kelly Gunning of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Lexington (NAMI).

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, the problems go beyond the obvious ones that cause discomfort to patients and employees alike, such as the facilities being sweltering hot in the heat of the summer, and icy cold in the winter. A report by an inspector sent to state officials identifies a host of safety concerns including lead paint, asbestos, and sewage leaking into a crawl space. But the main issue is whether or not the facility is safe, and the main focus of that centers on fire safety.

Fire hazards, including some exposed wiring, and insufficient, rusted, and inadequate sprinklers even in treatment areas, were found. In addition, in the event of a fire, the doors must be unlocked by staff with the appropriate keys.

Eastern State Hospital is the 2nd oldest psychiatric hospital in the United States. It opened its doors in 1816. Some newer buildings were added about fifty years ago. Buildings only have to comply with the fire-safety code for the year they were built.

State officials refute the claims that the buildings are unsafe, saying that what were seen as fire hazards can be open to interpretation.

But to the patients at the hospital, a major concern is the general ambience of the facility. Nine women on one unit were using one bathtub. Paint was peeling off walls and water sometimes pooled in bathrooms.

One patient with schizophrenia said that the facility was like the one in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and stated, "I would rather be dead than stay in a place like this."

Gunning, of NAMI-Lexington, pointed out the discrepency between the condition of this psychiatric hospital and hospitals for other illnesses such as cancer.

A new $130 million facility has been proposed, which, if and when it is put into the governor's budget, is expected to take 2-3 years to build.

Read the Articles: Eastern State: Is it safe?
Bluegrass Regional proposes new $130 million facility

Related Reading:


I stayed in an old mental facility that only had one shower for 25 men, they have since built a brand new facility next to it...but still I would rather live in a tent in the fields as a free man for six months than be incarcerated in the best facility available against my will.

Posted by: Salty davis at July 9, 2007 09:06 AM

Please remember that the organization is now known as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, not the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill as stated in the article. I realize that if an article is re-posted from a different original source, we run the risk of repeating their error.

However, if this can be changed, I urge the name be changed in the body of the article.

Posted by: Chris B. at July 10, 2007 01:22 PM

The article makes the hospital sound like it is completely dilapidated. It is a bit of a stretch from reality. My father was hospitalized for a few weeks in the dead of winter, and yet the temperature was comfortable. The bathrooms were no worse than my college's. Although it may not be visually appealing, it is imperative to keep in mind that unlike nicer facilities (like the Ridge) Eastern State is a non profit organization. It takes in many patients that do not have insurance - many patients that would be unable to get treatment elsewhere. They make due with what they have. I am a huge supporter of updating the facility, especially if there are harmful substances in the foundation such as asbestos. But all of the bashing is basically construed of exaggeration.

Posted by: Marissa at July 11, 2007 01:10 AM

Now, if only NAMI would start acknowledging the treatment and accountablilty of Some psychiatric hospitals as "a disgrace", the we might be getting somewhere.

Posted by: Richard at July 11, 2007 04:11 PM

omg i had to go to eatern state hospital in july of this year and that place is freakin crazy u cant sleep and when i went to take a shower the bathroom door wouldnt not lock and someone walked in on me and when i was n the shower it ws nasty it was like concret u was standin on and u got cold food that was distuging if u wanna know my opion i wpuld rather be dead then go back there

Posted by: heather at October 8, 2007 09:31 PM

I received admission paperwork at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, CA.

While reading the paperwork, I was alarmed and appalled to read that patients there have the right to refuse shock treatment or LOBOTOMY!

LOBOTOMY? Is this still legal? It is cruel and inhumane.

Write to Douglas Bagley, CEO
of RCRMC to protest LOBOTOMIES done on mentally ill people at this County hospital.

Posted by: Pamela at October 29, 2007 10:51 AM

I spent 5 days at Eastern state on a unit that smelled like urine and unwashed bodies. I had to put a towel down on any chair I sat in to avoid sitting in someone else's pee. There was nobody rational that I could talk to, and staff treated me like I wasn't rational as well. I will never put myself in a position to have my most basic rights violated like that again! I have written a documentary about my time there that tells the whole story... Anyone that wants it can get it from me. If the word can get out about how terrible a place it is, NAMI may have an easier time getting the new hospital..

Posted by: Kari at December 11, 2007 04:23 AM

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