What Really Happened On W-1 in New Britain Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit in 2014…

I remember names…some of them. For instance, the short, chubby, blond nurse, who was worried about her weight and who was so instrumental in torturing me? Her name was Debra. And the head nurse who seemed so oblivious to the fact that her policies were indeed torture, even though she admitted that she expected the guards to inflict pain on patients when “escorting” them to seclusion in order to “subdue them faster” as she put it to me, openly. Her name was Barbara, and even though I was horrified by things she told me, I believe that she was innocently deluded and believed in her job, did not mean to be mean, not the way Debra seemed to, and honestly wanted the best for her patients. But let me start at some beginning which is to say, anywhere at all, and give you an idea of what I am talking about.

How very similiar Michael and Charlie look…and and no wonder, since they share the same sadism genes!

I have written in multiple places and on many occasions about what happened to me at New Britain Hospital (aka  Hospital of Central Connecticut on Grand Street in New Britain) and I do not want to go into the whole thing here. All you need to do is search on the subject of Michael E Balkunas at this blog and you will get most of the gory details. That said, much that happened has never been told not even here. For instance, that Debra was the nurse who in a sadistic impulse and in an apparent fit of frustration, decided to have the security guards strip me naked when she was secluding me for some unknown (and always unnecessary) reason yet again…as they did nearly daily at W-1 in New Britain Hospital in May 2014….that  it was Debra who was directly responsible for this I have never stated. But I remember her name clearly, and her face….And the fact that after she did this the second or third time she went on leave for several days, and when she came back told me she had almost quit her job.

I was momentarily cheered because I thought perhaps she had had some serious regrets about what she’d done to me. I asked her, Was it because of me? I thought she would tell me yes. She looked at me, and nodded, then said, “Because you are such a challenging patient.”  Huh? I looked at her, and saw no remorse, no regrets only residual anger and scorn…and a certain unrepentant rancor that I had “made her do what she did.” Clearly she felt that I was to blame for her behavior, that I was to blame in general and that it was all justified.

Hospital Seclusion Room

But to get back to what happened. After she had me stripped naked by four male guards, after I loudly and vociferously protested being left alone in that freezing seclusion cell for I never knew how long, I began mildly hitting my head on the wall in protest. They threatened to four-point me and then they came barreling back in and threw me onto a restraint bed. The thing is, I knew, completely naked, I could not take the cold in that seclusion cell. But if they restrained me they would HAVE to cover me with something, and at the very least I would not freeze to death in that  frigid cell for an indefinite number of hours…But when they came for me, they grabbed me and angrily threw me onto a gurney, even though I put up no resistance,  spread-eagled my legs, deliberately exposing my private parts, and shackled them to the corners of the gurney with my arms pinioned above my head until I shrieked in pain even as  they laughed. Then they held me down,  gratuitously I might add, since I was already restrained, compressing my neck and chest, in order to give me the usual three-injection cocktail of punishment drugs — Haldol, Ativan and Benadryl — forcibly slammed into my buttocks. All of this done to me while I was  naked  and immobilized in four point restraints. Then fearing that they would leave me alone there, freezing cold, I screamed  for them to cover me. With a look of disgust, someone threw a draw sheet over me, but no more.

The charge nurse came in for my “face to face” interview to see that all was “proper”  and she visibly and audibly shivered, but refused me a warm blanket, or any at all, due to “safety concerns.” Then she left with the rest of them and  turned off the intercom, so “we won’t have to listen to her scream.” They closed the door behind them, leaving me all alone behind a metal cell door that did not even have an observation window in it.

I screamed from the base of my lungs as deeply and as loudly as I could for as long as I could last. No one took mercy on me or brought me water or a blanket or spoke to me the entire time. Only when, exhausted, I finally lapsed  did they relent and ask, from outside the door,  “can we turn the intercom back on? She is quiet now…” And apparently got assent for that… Because eventually I heard someone flip a switch but nothing more.

After I was  released, the next day, I told the unit director, Dr Michael E Balkunas what they had done to me, and he must have recognized the egregious nature of it because his response is telling. Instead of dismissing it as not so terrible, he said: “They would NEVER do such a thing as that in my hospital. You are a liar!” So he saw how awful it had been, what they had done to me, he just refused to acknowledge it had happened, and that he did not in fact  what his staff  were  up to. But I was never in fact the liar he believed me to be. His stock answer to everything he did not want to see or believe was  routinely that I was lying, but this was not true, and he was so sickeningly dismissive of the truth that I did not wait to listen to  more this time. I was so wiped off the map by his response that I got up and walked out of the interview room  and did not bother with him from then on…I KNEW I  was never a liar, and that in actuality it was the STAFF who lied all the time, but telling Balkunas that would have done no good. He wanted to believe what he wanted to believe and nothing i said got through to him from day one…So I thought, so why bother ?  WHY BOTHER. Balkunas wanted to murder  my body and my spirit, and I could not let him succeed. He could imprison my body in his hospital, but i was damned if i would let him get my spirit. FUCK HIM!

But Dr Balkunas, Michael, you did not in point of fact know what went on at W-1 ever, nor at the ER, when you were there. Abuse was rampant because you encouraged it to be…and you never cared much what they did to achieve “order” so long as it was “quiet” when you were around. So you gave tacit assent to the tortures that they inflicted, and you likewise tacitly approved the very behaviors that you told me  would “never happen on your watch”…Yeah? Well, I feel certain that if they behaved as they did towards me, they had done it before me, and did so to others after I left as well…and they continue to inflict these things on patients to this day.

I will leave it there. Your unit staff and you too, Balkie, are Out of control, and deserve, as my Obama post notes, to be CLOSED down for good.

The other day I made this little polymer clay figure to illustrate what Debra did to me.

Pam in Restraints in New Britain Hospital In May 2014

It blew me away and I could not sleep all night the night I made her….Until Wendy and I decided to heal her, and perhaps heal me,  from the experience, First, talking to the figure in the little bed calmly and with compassion,  we covered her with a thick cotton blanket. That brought me some relief as I no longer felt chilled.  Then we took off the restraints, which despite being made of polymer clay actually slipped right off, and we brought her arms down to her sides so she could sleep in comfort. By the time we were through I felt immensely better.

Neither of us could even imagine treating another human being as Balkunas had had me treated on numerous occasions by routine.

 

11 thoughts on “What Really Happened On W-1 in New Britain Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit in 2014…”

  1. Pammy, I validate every feeling and emotion of yours in this post, I am left near speechless at this apex of man’s inhumanity to man. I am glad Wendy and yourself did go through it somehow and I sincerely wish you get to heal to the point of forgiving them all cause they are the final losers and you waste even your anger energy at them. Let it just take its time. Loads of love

  2. Thank you, Flor, for your lovely healing words. I a, taking my time, but also i want to get over what i cannot change and get on with life, if indeed i can do nothing about the situation…but i cannot help but feel that if i continue to write about what michael and debra and barbara did to me at new britain hospital, that i just might save the life and suffering of some patient or patients yet to come, and this spurs me on…

  3. Its not easy to forget .. .if you feel that much anger and hate towards your torturers ..its just normal ..everyone else would ..Healing is a process ..it doesn’t happen overnight ..Over here we say ” there is no hurry in Africa” ..well I hope there is no hurry in America too ..do it your way .Take your time ..Someday ,hopefully ,it will all go away ! I can’t approximate the probability , but I know there are so many of us who love you and wish you well ..Continue living well ..it will do you a lot of justice ..I won’t write more .have a good day and be well !
    Am sending you so much love .
    Chao!

    Flor .

  4. What they did was terrible ..if I was in your position ma’am, I don’t know what I’d do …for you to draw this and write about it so many times ..it must have been one hell of a torture ..It was . The worst of it all is that it was done with impunity ! That’s why neither the nurse nor Balkunas showed any remorse . Am sorry Amiga .They say what goes around comes around .The best part is that despite all that humiliation and abuse ,you still have some strength left to put up a fight against it ..The efforts you are putting to make sure nobody else has to gobble this injustice are worthwhile.. Be it through music,interviews ,writing, art ..it thrills me..I salute you for it ..Bravo Miss

  5. I do not think about this all the time, by the way,…I am studying Non Violent Communication and am better than my torturers. it is just that the memories come up often and get the better of me…I cannot change that, or have not been able to, not yet…But I am doing very well other wise and if living well is the best revenge then that is exactly what I have had, the best revenge on so many who wished me ill!

  6. Thank you for your comments, Julie and Carole. I think many believe it happened, now, yes, but there at the time, NO ONE did, except maybe the patients because they heard me screaming and once even came to my defense…But NO one could do anything to help me, and afterwards there was no one to help me get justice, NO ONE. The P and A department just dumped me, as soon as they knew I had a real case against a few hospitals and they might have to work, they simply dumped me…SHAME ON PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY in connectiucut. I later found out that the so-called advocate they had given me was a “defrocked” lawyer, who had been disbarred in 2002 for totally disregarding his clients and lack of responsibility….Which is exactly how he behaved at P & A but did they care? Not a whit, they blamed me for his lack of caring and DUMPED ME! Those miserable MOTHERFUCKERS!!!! I hate them all. They caused as much sanctuary trauma as the hospital did and I do NOT forgive them!

  7. Unfortunately this world is not fair. I am so sorry you have been made to suffer the way that you have. You have been degraded, humiliated and debased. I wish I could wipe the memories from your brain dear friend. Carole

  8. Yes, Pam, I know! I wish I could call up the hospital where I was tortured and also call up the doc who works elsewhere now and tell him just what the abuse he and the others did, the sum total effect it had on me. NO THAT WAS NOT CARE.

  9. Wow I am glad you wrote that and shared that. I cannot imagine what it was like not even getting a blanket. The nurse’s enjoyment of cruelty…sounds very familiar. And the way you still see the faces. Me too. You made the experience very real, and that is a good thing. I hope you come to the point of knowing that more believe you than doubt you now.

  10. Just writing this post has made me remember and remember and I feel like SHIT… how could anyone treat a human being like that! I hate Michael and Debra and wish they would be tortured as they tortured me so they would KNOW HOW I FELT!!!!!

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