Bridgewater State Hospital

Information for Families


Bridgewater State Hospital strives to reinforce positive relationships between patients/inmates and family members and close associates in order to promote our reintegration efforts. 

The following guide addresses some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Bridgewater State Hospital’s policies and procedures.

Evaluation and Commitment Process

Patients are committed to the hospital by a court order and will remain here for a period of observation that could range from 20-40 days.  If at the end of the evaluation period a qualified professional has determined that your family member or friend would benefit from an extended period of hospitalization under strict security, a petition for commitment will be filed, and a hearing will be held.  Most district court hearings are held on Wednesdays at the hospital and are open to the public.  However, superior court hearings are held in the county where the patient is being prosecuted.  If the individual is not committed here, the individual will return to the court or facility from which they came.  

Each patient is assigned a designated forensic psychologist who will complete an evaluation and submit it to the court.  Also, the patient’s unit treatment team will be responsible for managing their care in the facility. If you have any concerns about a patient’s condition or treatment plan you may contact the facility directly and speak to a member of the treatment team.  Patients must sign a written release of information before any information is released by an employee. 

Patient/Inmate Funds

Upon a patient’s admission to the hospital an account will be set up in order for the patient to purchase canteen items which include food, snacks, and hygiene products.  If you would like to contribute to this account, please mail a check or money order to 20 Administration Road Bridgewater, MA 02324.  You must not send cash to a patient in this facility. Please be sure to write the patient’s name and the sender’s name legibly on all checks and money orders.  All checks have a ten day hold.  Also, all money orders greater than $200.00 have a ten day hold.   

Telephone Use & Interpreter Services

All patients have the opportunity to place outgoing calls.  An individualized pin number will be provided to each patient upon admission. Calls must be made collect, or by a prepaid phone card.  Patients are able to call up to ten telephone numbers including cell phones.  Be reminded that these calls are recorded.  Family and friends also have the option of setting up an advanced pay program with Global Tel link by calling 1-800-230-7761.  Any money previously deposited at a county facility cannot be transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital.  Lastly, patients admitted here with limited English proficiency will be able to communicate with hospital employees through the use of language interpretation services. 

Seclusion Family Notification Process

Bridgewater State Hospital shall provide patients with the opportunity to have a family member notified when a patient is placed in seclusion or restraint.  This notification will take place under the following conditions:

  1. The patient desires the notification to be made.
  2. The family member is willing to be notified.
  3. There are not legal impediments (e.g., restraining order).

Each patient will be provided an explanation of the family notification policy procedure upon their admission to the facility. Each patient will be provided assistance in completing the necessary notification and consent forms.  The patient or family member can revoke the designation of the family member for such notification at any time, but must be made in writing.  

Incoming and Outgoing Mail

Incoming and outgoing mail will be processed and delivered six days a week excluding Sundays and holidays. Patients may purchase stamps through the canteen and those who are unable to purchase stamps will be permitted to mail 3 letters each week and an unlimited number of letters to a court official.  All incoming/non-privileged mail and packages will be opened and inspected for contraband prior to being delivered to patients.  No COD letters or packages will be accepted. Patients may only receive letters and cards by mail. No other items will be allowed. 


Patients are not allowed to have any personal property during the observation period.  Patients who are committed to the hospital following the observation period may receive property being stored at another facility.  Patients may have clothing to be used for the purpose of going to court.  The property officer is the contact person for this matter. 


See ‘Visiting Procedures’ link for information concerning visitor rules, regulations, and schedule.


All patients have the opportunity to attend a wide variety of programs, educational classes, and religious services.  The hospital also offers a number of indoor and outdoor activities and encourages daily recreation.  A schedule for these activities is posted quarterly in each unit (See ‘Offender Programs’ link for complete list of BSH programs).

Library Access

The hospital library is also open Monday through Sunday.  Although the hospital library has an extensive collection of leisure and educational books family members and friends can purchase books for patients through publishers and approved book vendors.  The approved book vendor list is posted in the hospital library and in the visitor’s lobby.  There is also a law library on the premises and is open on weekdays. 

Institutional Grievance Procedures

Patients can report issues and concerns to a staff member 24 hours a day.  If a patient is unable to resolve an issue or problem with the unit correctional officer or correctional program officer the patient may utilize the informal or formal grievance process.  This process is explained in detail in the patient handbook which is provided to every patient when they arrive.  The patient handbook also explains the rules, regulations, and other details concerning the daily living routine at the hospital.  This handbook is also located in the visitor’s lobby.

Institutional Response to Allegations of Sexually Abusive Behavior

The Massachusetts Department of Correction is committed to enforcing the Prison Rape Elimination Act and has a zero tolerance policy for any incidence of sexually abusive behavior by a staff member, vendor, volunteer, patient, or inmate in any facility.  There are also internal and external methods for reporting abuse.  All allegations of sexual abuse or threats will be taken seriously and investigated in a thorough and objective manner.  Victims and reporters of sexual assault will be afforded ongoing medical, mental health, and victim services and will be protected from retaliation.  If a patient informs you that they have been involved in any incident involving sexual abuse, threats of sexual abuse, or harassment please encourage them to report the alleged incident to an institutional staff member immediately. The hospital staff will also respond to all written and verbal (including anonymous) third party reports of possible PREA violations. All alleged incidents may be reported to the Superintendent’s office during regular business hours or to the shift commander during non-business hours.  You can also contact our Department Duty Station hotline at 508-668-5498 to reports any concerns you may have.  

Patient Rights Committee

The hospital has established the patient rights committee to review all ethics referrals.  The rights committee can assist patients, inmates, staff, family, and concerned citizens in identifying, reviewing, and making thoughtful recommendations regarding ethical dilemmas as they relate to treatment and operational decisions.  Referral forms are accessible to patients in the hospital library. 

Revised 6/6/14