Stories of Partial Hospitalization Across Washington State

March 13, 2019

Outpatient mental health services like partial hospitalization — which are programs that allow patients to come in for treatment during the day and return home at night — are essential for Washington residents who need intensive care, but not to the degree that they require inpatient hospitalization. Currently, partial hospitalization services are covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans, but not Medicaid. A robust continuum of mental health care should be available for all Washington residents. We worked with our member hospitals to collect stories from patients across Washington to illustrate the necessity of these impactful and important services that work to offer a level of mental health treatment that bridges the gap between inpatient care and occasional outpatient visits with a mental health professional.

Read the excerpts below and click the links to view the complete versions.

Amy’s story – The power of community
“At the time, I was in a state of mania so bad that I no longer understood what was real and what was not. I spent time in a mental hospital, where I received what I firmly believe is the gift of my bipolarity diagnosis. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder finally made me realize that my struggles were not all my fault…
It took about a year and a half, but I slowly came back to center. Through some trial and error, I got onto a sustainable, long-term medication regimen that works well for me. When I reflect on that moment when I made my suicide attempt, it now feels like I am reading someone else’s biography. I am more removed from that place than I ever imagined I would or could be. I feel love and I grieve for that decent, kind, suffering soul that I once was. I am so glad she is still here.”
Read Amy’s full story.

Lizzie’s story – Two years after crisis, Lizzie is role model for teen mental health
“When Lizzie experienced a crisis in 2014, there was no specialized care unit for teens in Pierce County. She was compelled to seek help outside of her community and outside of her network of care…
Once Lizzie returned home, there wasn’t much follow-up care. Lizzie ended up returning to that same inpatient unit for a separate stay before she finally started to improve. Dawn felt like she lacked the resources and support from the medical community to care for her child.
‘I think having a child going through a behavioral health crisis is like any other physical disease. Even cancer. She didn’t ask to be sick. I didn’t ask her to be sick. We need to treat the whole child along with their family. We need parent support groups and resources like those available to children with illnesses you can see,’ Dawn says.”
Read Lizzie’s full story.

Monica’s story – Breast cancer: A physical and mental battle for Monica
“‘Initially I kept my depression and suicidal feelings to myself,’ Monica says. ‘One day, I was at treatment and a nurse could tell that something was wrong. I finally told her that I was consumed by depression and anxiety. She told me that she couldn’t let me leave if I was a threat to myself or others. I felt like I was — and that’s how I ended up in the Good Samaritan Emergency Department.’
Monica was given medication and sent on her way, but her symptoms worsened. With her husband’s encouragement, she checked into a hospital for psychiatric treatment. After being discharged, her journey was far from over. She desperately needed to continue psychiatric treatment but was told that she couldn’t be seen for another eight weeks.
‘I thought that if I didn’t get immediate mental health care, I wouldn’t be alive in eight weeks,’ she explained.”
Read Monica’s full story.

Anja’s story – Family finds refuge during mental health crisis
“At the age of 13, Anja began to struggle with mental health issues. Some days it was manageable, others it was extremely challenging. After a month of delusions and paranoia, she and her family reached their breaking point…
When Anja became violent, Jemima decided that it was time to seek professional help. Unfortunately, none of the behavioral health facilities in their area fit Anja’s needs, which brought the McKinney family all the way from their home in Alaska to the Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit (ABHU) at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital…
Now, months after treatment, Anja is happy and healthy. The McKinney family recently moved to North Carolina where Anja is now attending a school for the deaf and flourishing.”
Read Anja’s full story.

Sara’s story – Treatment with the RISE program
“Sara started treatment at three days a week so she could maintain her school connection; however, it was clear she was not stabilizing at this level and an increase to partial hospital level was recommended. Sara worked on gaining basic DBT skills around distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. She engaged in routine and crisis safety planning…
Sara made excellent use of the RISE program. She was fully engaged in treatment and highly motivated for very hard work. Sara and her mother were very grateful for her time in this program; as Sara stabilized enough to maintain in a weekly therapy session and their relationship was more open with Sara being able to express needs.”
Read Sara’s full story.

Connie’s story – The endless benefits of an intensive outpatient program
“Though it took me a week to feel grounded, it was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. It’s quite likely I would not be here today to write this testimonial if it weren’t for this program. And I most certainly wouldn’t still be married.
The benefits of this program are endless. Not only does it build confidence, but also your own self-worth. Through behavior modification you slowly prove to yourself that you are worth being loved and worthy of giving it. You walk into the program at your lowest and walk out a new person.”
Read Connie’s full story.

William’s story – Recovering in groups through outpatient services
“After reaching the end of my rope in a deep hole of despair and depression, my doctor recommended I admit myself into the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Fairfax…
Upon discharge, I was motivated to continue to be active in my recovery and stepped down into the Intensive Outpatient Program. This 8-week program goes very deep on training DBT skills, offering theory and practice of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotion regulation. These skills are completely practical and applicable to everyday living…
I am extremely fortunate to have a well-paying job, top-tier health care insurance and paid disability benefits. My challenge was just to make it every day to the program. Many, many more people do not have the resources or safety net I am blessed to have. Mental illness knows no boundaries and respects no societal classifications. I emphatically advocate for Medicaid to cover these programs that were so impactful and effective in my treatment. It is both the compassionate and effective path to ensure those who need care get it.”
Read William’s full story.


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