Concord — Joshua Knight was alone, had been for hours. He curled up on the mattress on the floor, shut his eyes and tried to block out his memories of the day.
Knight, 33, had been handcuffed and dragged out of his basement apartment in Chichester that September day last year. His mother, Carla Northrup, had been crying so hard the police told her she had to leave because she was upsetting him even more.
She hadn’t been to see him at Concord Hospital, where the police had brought him, not yet. So Knight was alone.
He had a mattress, bolted to the floor. A plastic cube served as a hard, backless chair. A television glowed behind a plastic window. At least the staff was kind enough to leave him the remote, he remembered four months after his three-day stay in what is known as “Yellow Pod,” a handful of rooms at the hospital staffed by Riverbend Community Mental Health.
For the first two days of his stay at Yellow Pod, Northrup called the hospital to check on her son. Hearing it could be several days more before a bed was available at New Hampshire Hospital, the state psychiatric facility in Concord, she visited to drop off clean clothes and magazines.
The room smelled of urine. Knight was unresponsive, curled up on the mattress so tightly his wrists hurt for weeks after from being tucked into his chest.
Doctors would come and go, assuring him they were working on getting him to the state hospital. He didn’t believe them.
He couldn’t go outside for three days, until he was transferred to the state facility.
“It’s really frightening,” he said. “I was locked up in this little room, this tiny cell. I was treated like somebody who couldn’t take care of themself. Like an animal.”
Knight, who suffers from depression and anxiety, was alone, but his experience is not singular.
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The Waiting Game: Mentally Ill Patients in New Hampshire Face Spartan Conditions, Long Delays