Built in 1933
Ken was interviewed in September 2005. In the early 1970’s, Ken was only 19 when he began working at Fairfield Hills. The time was before card scanning electric locks, and when metal keys opened all locked doors at Fairfield Hills. During his orientation tour, it was some frightening to Ken to be first exposed to the locked up inside world of the mentally ill.
The woman who led Ken on his orientation carried a metal ring with dozens of metal keys. The keys were of all sizes and shapes, and jangled loudly as she sorted through the keys to open the locked doors along the tour.
Ken tells of Fairfield Hills having a concrete hierarchy, a caste system that controlled all aspects of resident patient lives.
Keys were a large part of the hierarchy, allowing staff to go whenever and wherever they wanted. Patients held no keys, and therefor had to wait for the locked doors to be opened for them.
At Fairfield Hills, Ken says that Hospital Administrators, Psychiatrists, Ph.D’s, Social Workers, Nurses and Mental Health Workers were the pyramid of hierarchy. Below this hierarchy, keyless patients resided behind locked doors. It was a rigid system.
Patients were instructed when and where to go, and what to do. Patients were routinely labeled as schizophrenic or paranoid disordered. Categorized, they were treated with associated medications, given cigarettes, assigned a bed and escorted to and from their meals.