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Why would a Claremont McKenna College Student Need to, or Choose to, Go to the Hospital?
There are several reasons why a CMC student may need or want to consider hospitalization at a psychiatric or behavioral health facility, including such concerns as:
• Feeling suicidal, hopeless or worthless
• Being worried that you may hurt yourself or someone else
• Being worried about your drug or alcohol use
• Feeling so overwhelmed that you cannot function or care for yourself
• Having unusual experiences, such as hallucinations and/or delusions
• Experiencing confusion or disorientation
• Sleep-deprived to the point of impacting mental health
Hospitalization provides an opportunity to begin stabilizing a crisis situation. The hospital provides a safe, supportive environment where you can begin to understand what led to the need for hospitalization, receive immediate assistance, and plan for care once you leave the hospital
How is the Hospitalization Process Initiated?
If you are experiencing any of the thoughts or feelings above while on campus, a staff member from the Dean of Students office will refer you to Monsour Counseling and Psychological Assessments (MCAPS) for a safety assessment. If it is outside of MCAPS’ business hours (M-F, 8:30am-5pm), you will connect with the 24/7 on-call therapist (ProtoCall). Typically, if MCAPS or ProtoCall determines that you need to be evaluated further by a behavioral health hospital, or if you make the decision that you would like to go to the hospital, they will contact Campus Safety to coordinate medical transport to a nearby and available facility. A member of CMC’s Dean of Students office will also be notified and will either travel with or follow you to the hospital. Going to the hospital for an assessment does not guarantee that you will be admitted. The hospital ultimately makes this decision, which is discussed in further detail below.
What Will Happen Once I Get to the Hospital?
When you arrive at the hospital, Campus Safety will drop you off at the intake department, where you will check in at the front desk. MCAPS will have called ahead, so the hospital should be expecting you. The intake staff will ask you to fill out some initial paperwork, and then you’ll be asked to sit and wait until an intake nurse is available to talk with you about why you’ve come for an assessment. Depending on how many people are also being assessed, you may need to wait a little while before you are seen. While you are waiting, the staff will take your blood pressure, height and weight. Once an intake nurse is available, they will bring you to a private room to talk with you about the reasons you came to the hospital. They’ll ask you about any difficulties you’ve been having both recently and in the past, about your drug and alcohol use, about any history of medications or counseling, and if you’ve been having any suicidal thoughts. It’s important to be open and honest with the intake nurse, even if these are personal questions.
After you meet with the intake nurse, the hospital will make one of three recommendations:
1) The intake nurse might say that there’s not an immediate need for you to be in the hospital. You can return to campus at this time and you will be connected with appropriate support.
2) Alternatively, the intake nurse might recommend that you voluntarily stay at the hospital for a short amount of time. This is common in situations where it may be beneficial to take some time away from your academic work to prioritize a focus on making sure that you’re safe. It’s up to you whether or not you enter the hospital in this situation, but it’s generally wise to seriously consider the recommendation.
3) In some situations, the intake nurse may insist that you be admitted the hospital, whether or not you want to. This is called an involuntary hospitalization, or an involuntary hold. This is legally allowed when the hospital believes that you are at high risk of harming or killing yourself or someone else, or if you appear unable to care for yourself. If you are placed on an involuntary hold, you can be required to stay at the hospital, generally for 72 hours from the time of admission. In rare situations, if you are dealing with a significant concern that is unlikely to resolve in less than 72 hours, a psychiatrist may require you to stay in the hospital for longer than 72 hours.
If you are admitted to the hospital, the Dean of Students office will assist with a number of things. They can retrieve items from your room (clothing, books, other items that the hospital will allow), notify people you would like to know of your absence (ie. RA, roommate, friends), and alert your professors that you will be out of class for a period of time. The Dean of Students office will notify at least one family member if you are admitted to the hospital.
CMC’s Senior Associate Dean of Students for Student Success and our Assistant Dean of Students for Mental Health & Case Management will work closely with you to ensure that you know all of your academic options and that you have our full support to achieve the academic goals you and your treatment provider believe to be reasonable.
What Is a Typical Day Like at the Hospital?
This depends on your reasons for going to the hospital, and which unit of the hospital you are on. Generally, you will attend one or more therapy groups during the day, which will give you a chance to talk about your concerns and learn skills for managing stress and other difficulties more effectively. You will also have access to an individual therapist, if requested.
You will be assigned a psychiatrist who will generally visit you once each day; if you are there during the weekend you may see a different psychiatrist, who will have access to your admitting psychiatrist’s notes to ensure continuity of care. They will talk with you about how you are doing, how your stay in the hospital is going, and what your goals are for being in the hospital. They may also recommend that you begin taking one or more medications, or if you are already taking medication, they may recommend a change to your regimen. You can talk with your psychiatrist about this and how you feel about it.
You will also be assigned a hospital case manager, who will coordinate care with you while you are in the hospital. The case manager will communicate regularly with CMC’s Assistant Dean of Mental Health & Case Management to ensure that someone on campus is aware of your progress and plans.
You will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and will also have some free time to rest, watch television, read, or have visitors. Certain items are not allowed in the hospital, including personal phones, laptops, and items that may be considered dangerous. Books are usually fine.
Sharing Information about Hospitalization
One very important question to consider is whom you want to tell that you are in the hospital. Especially if you live in campus housing, you may have roommates or friends who will notice that you are not there, and they may be concerned. It’s a good idea to let certain people know where you are, or at least that you are safe. You can share with them as much or as little as you’d like. Some people you may think about talking with include:
- Romantic partner
- Therapist, psychiatrist, other treating clinicians
- Supervisor at work
If you need additional support and/or want to inform others of the hospitalization, the Dean of Students office can help by contacting friends, family or other designated support systems, including your professors. You’re in charge of the message - it’s important to think about what you want other people to know. For example, the Dean of Students office can let your faculty know that you will be "absent from class for health reasons." The Dean of Students office staff can be a good resource to talk with about messaging, and they can deliver whatever information you wish back to your friends, family or other designated support systems.
Staying in Contact With Friends and Family While in the Hospital
If you are admitted to the hospital, you will be able to communicate with friends and family even though you will not have access to your cell phone. Each unit has a community telephone that you can use. You can use it to call your friends or family, or receive calls from them. Someone can only call you if they know the unit you are staying on. The hospital will assign you a Patient ID and may ask a caller to confirm your Patient ID. Without that information, the hospital is unable to confirm or deny that you are a patient.
If you want the hospital to speak directly with your family, therapist or other mental health professional, you will need to fill out a release of information form. This lets you state what information you would want to be shared, and with whom it can be shared. CMC asks that you sign a release of information for the Dean of Students office so that they are aware of any relevant updates while you are in the hospital.
For many people, medication can be a helpful part of a stabilization plan. In the hospital, medications are prescribed by a psychiatrist, who is a medical doctor specializing in mental and emotional health. A psychiatrist will meet with you each day that you are in the hospital and may talk with you about how certain medications may be helpful. It is up to you if you wish to take any medications that are prescribed. To make an informed decision, you should talk with your psychiatrist about questions like:
• What is the name of the medication that you’re recommending?
• Why are you recommending this medication?
• What is my diagnosis?
• How long will I need to take this medication?
• Are there any common side effects?
• When might I begin to see a difference in symptoms?
Hospitalization Discharge, Re-Entry and Goals:
When your treating psychiatrist says you are ready for discharge, the hospital case manager will alert MCAPS and the CMC Dean of Students office to begin the re-entry process. Typically, students are transported back to campus through Taxi, Uber, or a designated support system (i.e. parents). The CMC Assistant Dean of Mental Health & Case Management can help coordinate transportation before discharge.
During MCAPS’ office hours, you will go straight from the hospital to MCAPS for a post-hospitalization re-entry visit. This supportive meeting is designed to create a treatment plan and provide recommendations to CMC regarding your readiness to return to the academic environment. If you are discharged outside of MCAPS’ business hours, CMC requires that you stay off campus with family or other support system until you have had your re-entry meeting with a psychologist at Monsour. You may briefly return to your room with permission from the Dean of Students office to gather some belongings, but are not permitted to remain on campus (this includes sleeping on any of the 7C campuses, attending classes, club meetings, events or work) until you’ve had your re-entry session at MCAPS.
After meeting with Monsour Counseling, you will meet with the Assistant Dean of Mental Health & Case Management to discuss your wellness and success plan. You will also meet with a member of our Academic Success team. It’s natural to be concerned with your campus responsibilities and to wonder how quickly you can get back to your classes. It’s also important to remember that if you’ve been admitted to the hospital, it is likely that previous coping skills and supports weren’t working well enough for some reason and some change might be necessary. Staff in the Dean of Students office are committed to working with you to ensure the best choices for your health and safety are being made.
Students are encouraged to think about who will be part of their support system and how this support will help them stay accountable and engaged in aftercare. Some students want to continue their normal routine and return to their classes as soon as possible. Sometimes this is possible with continued support through counseling, medication management, increasing the frequency of counseling sessions, or following other hospital recommendations. Sometimes it makes sense to reduce your course load or workload so that you can move forward with less stress. There are several options that you may have, and they are all based on the idea that something will need to be different as you move forward. The DOS office and Monsour Counseling can both talk with you about which options make sense for you.
Medical Leaves of Absence
Some students may find it difficult to return to their normal routine and want to take time off from CMC. In these situations, it may make sense to take a medical leave of absence. A medical leave lets you withdraw from CMC and return at a future date when you are better equipped to be successful. While you are away, you can focus on pursuing treatment without the additional pressure of classes or other academic responsibilities. If you choose to take a medical leave, you will be asked to provide information about your condition and your treatment provider’s recommendations about your readiness to return. This usually involves giving your therapist or healthcare provider permission to talk with the Senior Associate Dean of Students for Student Success and the Assistant Dean of Mental Health & Case Management about how you’re doing.
The California Department of Healthcare Services offers a detailed explanation of your rights if you are in a psychiatric hospital. You may obtain a copy of this document in PDF format at:
Here is the contact information for the most commonly used hospitals near the Claremont Colleges:
Aurora Charter Oak
1161 East Covina Blvd
Covina, CA 91724
Las Encinas Hospital
2900 E. Del Mar Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91107
Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center
1798 North Garey Avenue
Pomona, CA 91767
The Assistant Dean of Students for Mental Health & Case Management can be contacted at:
Dean of Students Office