Recently I had the chance to visit the Springbrook Psychiatric Hospital in Brooksville, Florida. Unfortunately my visit turned into a two-and-one-half week internment in a place that I didn’t even know existed the day before and since have come to call the “Springbrook Hilton” (borrowed from the “Hanoi Hilton“) or for short “The Jail“.
A synopsis of how I got there follows: I got up to use the bathroom in the night and fell on the hardwood floor. The pain in my back was really bad and a week later I went to Timber Ridge Emergency Room. They took a cat scan and ex-rays. No broken bones or internal bleeding. They gave me two subscriptions of Morphine pain-killer and sent me home. The pain-killer was for seven days. Pain started coming back and I started having withdrawal from the morphine. Called my sister-in-law and asked if there was a Drug or Suicide Rehabilitation Center I could go to get pain meds. She called the sheriff and said I was thinking of suicide. Wrong thing to say. The sheriff came, picked me up and took me to county hospital where they kept me over night, gave me pain meds and in the afternoon put me on a van and headed for Brookfield Hospital……… They would not tell me where I was going except to say a hospital about two hours away. When we got there I was taken inside in a wheel chair. (my legs had given out by now and I could not walk on my own). The admissions office and waiting area were a mess. Hardly any light, floor looked like it had not been cleaned in a month, and beat up old furniture. I waited about two hours to be admitted.
Once a person gets in, they don’t get out and in my case no one knew where I was. None of my children or any other friend or relative. My cell phone was confiscated upon my arrival, as was everything else I had, which really didn’t matter because the battery was dead. The only clothes I had were what I was wearing……a t-shirt, underwear, a pair of shorts and loafers. I also had my wallet, no money and my insurance cards.
Security there is very tight. Almost like a jail, but not quite. All doors are kept locked except the “cell blocks” (rooms) and there is no way to leave your section of the building into another. This is actually for the “patients” protection because there are all ages and kinds there. From what I could see there were three sections for three different age groups. Being 82 years young, I was put in with the older group. I did see on my trip to my room that most of the bldg. was new and the new admissions office was not finished yet. My bunk was an old steel spring and frame bed from the “World War One” era I think, with a very thin mattress. Needless to say this didn’t help my painful back.
We all had the same strict schedule to live by. Up at six a.m., breakfast at seven-thirty a.m., free time ’til nine a.m., classes ’til eleven a.m, lunch at eleven thirty a.m., free time ’til one p.m., classes ’til four p.m., supper at four thirty p.m., and free time ’til ten p.m. (lights out) seven days a week. Patients who smoked were allowed to go out side with a “Bull” and smoke during free time. Patients were allowed to use a group phone during free time, but all my numbers were on my phone and I had not memorized any of them so I could ny call out. Besides that, I woke up the first morning with laryngitis and could not speak above a whisper. My laryngitis lasted for eight weeks before it cleared up.
And what kind of people does one find in a Rehabilitation Psychiatric Hospital??? I found a room-mate of about middle age. He was tall, bearded, long hair, polite, very helpful to me and had recently lost his wife. He was there because he couldn’t cope with his grief. I found and older man who could not function by himself and didn’t know who or where he was. I found two ladies that were 93 and 94 years young who were as nice as could be and their children had just brought them there and “Dumped” them off. From my observation, I would say they were suffering from dementia. I found a woman in her sixties who was loud, obnoxious, raving all the time because she couldn’t go out and smoke, but didn’t have any cigarettes anyway. Sometimes she was so bad the attendants had to give her a shot and put her to bed to calm her down. I also found a women I would guess was in her 40’s, both legs paralyzed, constantly catherized, not wanted by her father, her husband dead and she had to stay at the “JAIL” until she could find her self a place to live. There were a few others in our “cell block”, but these mentioned stand out in my mind. The personal who worked there were very helpful and treated everyone with respect as long as you didn’t get rowdy or out of hand. Then they could be very forceful. The head nurse came in with her cart and saw that everyone got their medicines before meals and bed time. The one big farce there was with the Doctors. I never had a formal interview with the Psychiatrist as I was supposed to have. The Doctors came in every day to have a conference with the patients assigned to them, but it was held in the presence of who ever other patients were in the room and lasted all of five minuets or less. From these visits they determined what medications they would prescribe.
I was in this lovely place from Aug. 7 to Aug.25……..18 days……..All because the sheriff was told I was going to commit suicide when all I wanted was some medical help to relieve my back pain. To top it all off, I am going to have to pay part of my bill for being there out of my own pocket and that is not right. I was basically arrested by the sheriff and taken to this hospital against my will. I could not contact anyone and could not get out. It is fine for Florida to have a law that allows this kind of action, but I do believe at least a short investigation should take place before a person is whisked away from his home with no idea of what is happening.
Ahhhhh Florida!!!!!!!! Americas Vacation Land. Home of a corrupt BMV, a corrupt government and a Sheriff’s Dept. that is high on Viagra and can’t keep it in their pants. Thanks to everyone involved for making my visit so memorable…………….
William L. Verrill