LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — E.W. Sparrow Hospital’s psychiatric emergency room is facing criticism after multiple people claimed they had unsafe experiences.

The former patients even started a group trying to advocate for change. The group even posted signs around downtown East Lansing. 

“I just wanted people to see it,” said Lucinda Gleespen. “Just the other day, we went down Grand River and Albert and put them around on pretty much every single light post we could find.”

She said it all started in the spring of 2022 when she sought help from Sparrow, but what she saw only made things worse. 

“I witnessed staff making fun of other patients, I was strip-searched, I was left without any of my belongings, I had to put on an orange jumpsuit that really felt like a prison suit, and I was prohibited from calling my family to let them know where I was,” she added.

After speaking with friends, Gleespen realized that she wasn’t alone and decided to take action. 

“I made this website, Holding Sparrow Accountable, where people can put their experiences as well as alternatives that they found that have actually been beneficial to them,” she said. 

As of Wednesday, there are nine patient stories, and they’re not the only ones. 

“I’ve had a lot more people reach out to me informally too, not necessarily to be on the website, but letting me know this is something they’ve experienced as well,” said Gleespen. 

She said while Sparrow might have these protocols for safety reasons, she knows first-hand that other facilities go about things differently and hopes that Sparrow follows suit. 

“Mental health is just like any other illness and should be treated as such,” Gleespen lamented. “And I am so proud of all of the people who have come forward to share their story.”

Sparrow shared a statement with 6 News, saying that health systems across the U.S. are overwhelmed by behavioral health patients and Michigan is no exception. 

Officials added that E.W. Sparrow is currently deploying registered nurses trained in psychiatry and are working vigorously to place these patients in appropriate places of care. 

“Sparrow will continue to work daily to identify solutions for behavioral health patients in our communities and are working to learn from this patient’s experience,” Director, of Media Relations and Corporate Communications for Sparrow Health System John Foren said.