Death at West Oaks Hospital

Two men went into a walled-in courtyard at a mental hospital. One came out alive.

In July, a Harris County Grand Jury no-billed Williams in Mario's death. Muhammad "Mo" Aziz, Chazz Vidaurre's civil attorney, says he believes it was because the grand jurors thought it was self-defense­.

Chazz Vidaurre, unable to accept the decision, asked for an investigation by Advocacy, Inc., a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, and he is pursuing a civil case as well. Advocacy, Inc. will be making a determination to see if the hospital followed policy on the use of restraints for patients, says Sarah Guidry, the organization's regional managing attorney. "We are leaning toward finding that there were some policy violations," she says, adding that their investigation is not complete.

She says the fact that the two men were alone could be a policy violation. "It appears that proper restraints were not used, from talking to people." Once they have assembled their information, they will present it to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which has licensing and oversight authority on private mental hospitals in Texas.

Chazz Vidaurre remembers the good times with his brother and wishes he'd taken him out of West Oaks Hospital.
Daniel Kramer
Chazz Vidaurre remembers the good times with his brother and wishes he'd taken him out of West Oaks Hospital.
Until the accidental death of a friend, Mario was a normal, happy kid, his brother says.
Courtesy of Chazz Vidaurre
Until the accidental death of a friend, Mario was a normal, happy kid, his brother says.

Lucinda DeBruce, who had just been in her new position as West Oaks's chief executive officer for two weeks when Mario died, told the family "she was very sorry it happened," Chazz says. DeBruce declined to talk to the Houston Press, but issued a press release through her attorney which said in part: "The events surrounding the patient's death were fully investigated by the authorities and none of our employees were found to have committed any wrongdoing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the individuals involved in this tragic event."

But that's not what DSHS investigators found. The Press obtained copies of the state's investigation after filing an Open Records Request with the department's Facility Licensing Group. In direct and clear language, the state found that "the facility staff failed to protect the patient's rights to a safe environment and therefore resulted in the patient's death."

The state found that West Oaks should have switched to a two-to-one ratio after Mario demonstrated that he was repeatedly violent and difficult to control.

"2:1 observation may be considered if the risk of harm to self or others is considered so significant that 1:1 observation is insufficient to assure the safety of the patient and/or others. These documented episodes of aggression...were an indication that 1:1 observation was insufficient to assure the safety of patient #1 and/or others. However 2:1 observation was not implemented."

Also, according to the state, as a 1:1 patient, Mario never should have been in the smoking enclosure without special permission from a physician — something he did not have. (In some accompanying investigations about this time, the state also found general laxness in West Oak's admitting and oversight procedures for other patients, including one episode of a suicidal patient being allowed to bring in a phone charger cord, a patient with a pocket knife, a diabetic patient who was never weighed and didn't have doctor-ordered blood drawn, a patient caught smoking what was believed to be marijuana, and two patients having sex after one crawled into the other one's room. In the last incident there were no written, signed or dated statements from any of the staff to whom the incident was first reported.)

Crucial to any civil case is the statement of Edmond Smith, a part-time tech at the hospital who is employed full-time as a correctional officer with a state agency. His recollections do not match those of Williams.

Working a double shift that day, Smith told police it was about 4 p.m. when the charge nurse told him that "Fred needs some help in the back smoking area."

"I noticed Fred was kind of standing over the patient and the patient was leaning down kind of slumped over on his side. Fred made a statement that the guy had punched him in the head. Fred looked like he'd been in a fight," Smith is heard saying in an audiotape made by police.

"Fred turned and kind of kicked the guy and immediately after that he stomped him," Smith says. "I rushed over and separated them and got between him and the patient. He wasn't moving. I rolled him over and his eyes were glazed over."

Asked to be more specific about the kick, Smith answers that the kick was "in the side," and that Williams "jumped on him with both feet."

Smith says he went to get the nurse, and together they tried to revive Mario by giving him CPR. During this time there was never any response or sound from Mario, Smith says.

Asked for an assessment of both men, Smith describes Williams as a soft-spoken man with dreadlocks who works the night shift. "Fred's a good person."

He says that Mario spent the short time he was in the West Oaks facility "constantly throwing punches" as he walked around and telling both staff and other patients, "I can kick your ass."

Asked by police if he thought the fight was over before Williams kicked and stomped Mario, Smith says he doesn't know. At the same time, he says he couldn't see any attempt by Mario to start the fight up again.

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17 comments
Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

UPDATE: My mother was physically assaulted my two male techs last night! Adult Protective Services is now involved along with a couple other agencies advocating for Mentally Ill citizens. I'm in the process of having her moved but Dr. STARBRANCH is making it almost impossible. I did get a phone call back from Texas Department of Health Services and they are going to be investigating this hospital! If you or your loved one have been treated improperly by these QUACKS please contact Dee Whiting at 713-767-3337, she WILL call you back if she doesn't answer. I can't do this alone, the more complaints the better for all. WE CAN SHUT THIS HOSPITAL DOWN, as a group! Or you can contact me at lori.walkup@aol.com PLEASE HELP ME TO HELP OTHERS THAT MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE MONSTERS!

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

UPDATE: My mother was physically assaulted my two male techs last night! Adult Protective Services is now involved along with a couple other agencies advocating for Mentally Ill citizens. I'm in the process of having her moved but Dr. STARBRANCH is making it almost impossible. I did get a phone call back from Texas Department of Health Services and they are going to be investigating this hospital! If you or your loved one have been treated improperly by these QUACKS please contact Dee Whiting at 713-767-3337, she WILL call you back if she doesn't answer. I can't do this alone, the more complaints the better for all. WE CAN SHUT THIS HOSPITAL DOWN, as a group! Or you can contact me at lori.walkup@aol.com PLEASE HELP ME TO HELP OTHERS THAT MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE MONSTERS!

PTSANDERS1108
PTSANDERS1108

I admitted my adult son to West Oaks last friday right before Mothers Day because he was acting totally out of it & he was brought home extra early from a group meeting he goes to.5 days a week. He had just had a prescription filled for lorazapem 1mg #60, I read the side effects & my son was acting like everything I was reading so I called the dr that prescribed the meds & told him what was going on & said to.bring him to West Oaks. They drug.tested my son & everything was negative even his prescribed meds & to me that was strange. My son is still there & has called me on 2 occassions telling me they gave him a shot cause he wldnt comply then they told him he couldnt go.home yesterday cause he wldnt take a pill. He called me & said the shot gives him bad dreams. I called to.check on him late tonite & was told in group he was halucinating, & seeing chuhuahuas he wasnt when I.took him there he disoriented confused. I'm going in tomorrow to see WHAT THE HELL IS GOING.ON.WITH MY CHILD!!!!!

Trisha Barton
Trisha Barton

Houston is not known for its help for mental patients. We have a sibling who has been in the system for 30 plus years. There is no place for them to go long enough to get stabilized. West Oaks is one of the worst. They put my brother on the wrong meds and let him out in less than two weeks 2 different times and he is back in there again! What is wrong with the system!?!He needs to remain on the meds that work and they need to quit experimenting with new meds that don't work! At least they could find a way to keep him in until he gets stabilized.

NABH
NABH

I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.Regards:NABH

Stephanie
Stephanie

I agree with you. That is a terrible "hospital", & needs to be shut down. I was a patient there last year 2010 on Valentine's Day & I was assulted by 3 male staff members. I am already a diable woman-29, now, that has seizures, anxiety attacks, bipolar disorder, along w/ Post trumatic Stress Diorder. So that beating & throw down on the floor that those 3 men gave to me, does not help any of my disabilities nor does it help with the reason I was there in the 1st place. That place is a hell hole & needs to be shut down.

Ben
Ben

West Oaks is just pure voodoo! Keep away from this place!

zhengjingming
zhengjingming

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david
david

west oaks is not there to help i myself was working out of town my wife had a nervouse breakdown whent there for help my wife admit to doin some drugs and wanting to die cause she was upset i had been gone for 6 months next thing u know cps is giving my kids to my sisterinlaw i get back 2 weeks later theyh tell me i can only visit my kidswith my sisterinlaw when i did nothing wrong the thing is west oaks called cps because when my wife did coke not around my kids for the record she had babysitter they asked who cared for the kids the next day cause she stayed up all night she replied with i just lay on the coutch when they need somthing like a pb jelly sandwich when they hungry or whaterver they get what they want and need.when cps did that and my wife got released to do outpaition and the doctor ask how are u she said everything would be good if u didnt call cps when she asked why he did thats what he told her. now my thing is she wanted help shes takin like 20 drug test never once failed one so whats the deal cps says she needs to finish her west oaks there charging me 80 dollas a day for 2 hrs and ironicly they even told her when shell be done 18 days because thats when my insurence stops coverig it. if im not mistakin its against the law for the doctor to release info on anyone unless theres imidiate danger there was none my wife cares for us (fammily) enough to get help she got it however because she told west oaks i used to smoke weed cps treated me like a criminal i took a drug test were someone actualy watched me i got the full custudy of the kids only prob is cps is forcing my wife to finish west oaks very expensive program that is a 2 hour aa meeting everyday. when cps called west oaks they said they are worried because we called west oaks said we couldnt aford it.also instead of aa meatings she whent to a monday night football game and basketball game it snowed recently and we played in the snow with our children and because she didnt do aa west oaks said bad things to cps about bein worried wich theres no worrie now that im hope if anyone is to blame its me for working out of town 6months of the year. the other thing is if my wife said something about me used to smoke weed why does cps know if my wife didnt tell them that. isnt that AGAINST THE LAW.. they also gave false info to cps things like the drugs she was on when she had here breakdown they asked her what drugs she ever didin her life and now all those drugs is what she was on at one time. the point for me writing this is to say west oaks is about money those people do not care when i called for info when i was out of town they hung up on me cause i was askin alot of questions on whats there way of doing this and how u gona help my wife sad thing is they are like the people at mcdonalds they got a job they do what they got to do to pay bills they get there bills payed by conning insurance companys like mine and people with money by sayin someone still needs help when they dont my wife has other problems not drug related and they keep acting like shes a crack head thats wrong i feel if u ever need help talk to family build a strong support from them cause when it comes down to it we/they are the only ones who care and can help and it doesnt cost an arm and a leg ur not riskin going for help and geting harmed u just better off I hope by writing this and u reading the other articles u find another way. my wife was ther 24/7 for a couple of weeks people crap on themselves it takess all day for them to clean leaving the whole facility to smell untill next shift gets there to clean they dont care they are very rude people plz. just find anotherwayfor ur loved one west oaks is crooked. im not speaking on all rehabe/mental facilitys just west oaks in houston texas because i know from experince. MONEEY MONEY MONEY is all they want and they forget that theres peoples familys waiting on this to be done right so they can move on with a bad time in there life.some people do take longer than others but then some dont. look up this place on the internet u wont find anything good. to regards to the story i feel west oaks did somthing bad how come with a patient like that u would let one man take him to a none supervised place. if a nurse cant controll himself knowing everyday that he hast to deal with patients like that he doesnt need to work there like i said those people do not care.i wish the best of wishes to the family of mario and if i could help in anyway with anything please contact me. my wife knows alot about the facility and how bad they treat people if mr.aziz would like to get info from her just email us at the posted email. best of wishes

anonymous
anonymous

I was also a patient at West Oaks, in their adolescent unit in 2004. None of the staff cared about the patients, they were just there to have a job and get paid. You never saw the same doctor or counselor twice. It was awful. Pure hell. I hope something has changed.

Sarah W
Sarah W

West Oaks really is terrible for patient safety. I was admitted the end of July 2006 in the adolescence unit. None of my stuff was searched, and I managed to sneak two blunt razors into the unit, as I was on suicide watch. The hospital is just lucky that nothing came of that.

Loretta Lilley
Loretta Lilley

Ihad a daughter admitted to west oaks hospital in Feb.06.At the time she was 6 years old.During the admition her arm had gotten broken and was not taken care of. I would like to talk to you about this in more detail. This hospital needs to be shut down. Loretta Lilley

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

PLEASE advise on what happened! I am going through almost the same thing with my 62 yr old mother! I'm terrified for her life. They accidentally locked me in with the patients while I clearly had no wristband and had a visitor tag. All hell broke loose then they realized that I wasn't supposed to be there. I am completely sane and I saw first hand how the staff makes fun of the patients and all the BS that they pull on these mentally unstable folks. They have given my mom 2 shots and she has only been there for 24 hrs. We need to band together and contact the State.

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

PLEASE CONTACT ME ....... lori.walkup@aol.com Together we can get their license jerked and close this HELL HOLE down for good. Medicare needs to investigate. This is Medical Malpractice at its finest!

Stephanie
Stephanie

Mr. Aziz, I too have been a patient at that so called, wanna be, "hospital" West Oaks Hospital Of Houston... where I was greatly hurt there. I was beaten/ assulted by 3 of the male staff members that was working there. I know that 1 was named Terry, 1 was named Micheal, but I have no idea what the 3rd guy, a very tall, skinny white guy, was named. Anyways...If ever your wife needs someone to talk to, I am usually home...since I am disabled & unable to work, so please, just have her e-mail me and then she & I can maybe chat on the phone, up to her. God Bless All, take care.

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

Mrs. Lilley please contact me. My mom is being abused by them. lori.walkup@aol.com

 
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