Mental Anguish at Texas West Oaks Hospital

Go to this private psychiatric facility, and you might be helped. Or you might be shut in a room all alone and end up like Amanda, with a broken arm. Or dead.

Amanda Lilley was only six years old and could be loving, sweet and delightful, requiring hugs of any visitors before they left her house.

But when she was out of control, tables would be flipped, chairs smashed and the kittens she loved needed to run for cover. She once took on four men at St. Luke's Hospital and ripped out her own IV. Diagnosed as mentally retarded, autistic and with a mild seizure disorder, she'd been pooping her pants, acting up on the school bus and kicking, hitting or biting indiscriminately anyone who crossed her path. Hit by a seizure, she would stare into space without moving.

Her parents, Loretta and Jim, who have five other children, love Amanda despite her troubles. Sometimes the medication she's prescribed is enough, and sometimes nothing slows her down.

Amanda's broken arm wasn't discovered till after she left West Oaks.
Courtesy Loretta Lilley
Amanda's broken arm wasn't discovered till after she left West Oaks.
Texas has fined West Oaks $155,000 since March 2007 for violations of state regulations.
Daniel Kramer
Texas has fined West Oaks $155,000 since March 2007 for violations of state regulations.
Mario Vidaurre was beaten to death by his West Oaks caregiver last year.
Courtesy Chaz Vidaurre
Mario Vidaurre was beaten to death by his West Oaks caregiver last year.
Alan Chambers died by hanging after West Oaks left him alone in his room.
Courtesy Greg Chambers
Alan Chambers died by hanging after West Oaks left him alone in his room.
Alan's twin brother Greg has talked with attorney Muhammad "Mo" Aziz, who is representing the parents in their son's death.
Margaret Downing
Alan's twin brother Greg has talked with attorney Muhammad "Mo" Aziz, who is representing the parents in their son's death.
Amanda loves kittens, but her mood can change in an instant.
Daniel Kramer
Amanda loves kittens, but her mood can change in an instant.
Caregiver Tabitha Etheridge comes in after school each weekday to help with Amanda.
Daniel Kramer
Caregiver Tabitha Etheridge comes in after school each weekday to help with Amanda.
Sometimes a close hug from mom Loretta Lilley is what it takes to calm Amanda.
Daniel Kramer
Sometimes a close hug from mom Loretta Lilley is what it takes to calm Amanda.

In February of 2006 she had spent a few days at Texas West Oaks Hospital, the private psychiatric facility in west Houston. As she was released, she was referred to another facility, but as her mother Loretta puts it, "They wouldn't touch her."

Back at their Conroe home, she was sleeping only two hours a night. Mom stayed with her in a locked bedroom. Dad slept out on the couch in the living room to make sure Amanda didn't go out the locked front door (as she had other times, only to be brought back by the police).

Amanda did not get any better, so they decided to take her back to West Oaks. On the way over, Amanda tried to jump out of the car onto the highway.

In the days following Amanda's February 21, 2006, check-in, staff members issued a litany of complaints. She wasn't doing well. No one wanted to room with her. She had to sleep on the couch. She had no boundaries with the male staff.

On February 28, Loretta received a voice message at about7 p.m. asking her to call West Oaks. The staffer said Amanda had hurt her arm. It wasn't anything real bad; they were just letting her know about it. She had been sent to her room for acting out in the TV room, and then the accident occurred. They were going to have a doctor look at it. Reassured, Loretta said okay.

The next day, Loretta called in and was told everything was fine. The doctor had looked at Amanda's arm, and she was fine. "Fine" was the operative word.

On March 2, Loretta came to pick up Amanda to take her to a special education assessment at the Conroe school district. That's when she found her daughter's right arm dangling limply by her side. She discovered how swollen and discolored it was when she got her into the outside light in the parking lot.

That's when she took Amanda to an emergency room and found out that yes, Amanda's arm was broken.

That's also when she decided West Oaks Hospital and its personnel didn't know what they were doing.

Increasingly, other voices are joining her in this complaint. Critics say that West Oaks is understaffed, conducts poor or no training of its employees, doesn't supervise its patients well and keeps inadequate records that make determining what is going on at this private facility very ­difficult.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has fined West Oaks Hospital a total of $155,000 since March 29, 2007, for three separate episodes in which there were violations of state licensing regulations. The state reports these findings without patient names or date of occurrence, so it is next to impossible to determine what specific cases were involved. In any event, West Oaks was cited for everything from "failure to assure humane treatment of its patients that assures protection from harm" to "failure to monitor patients" correctly to "failure to provide a sanitary environment."

What is specifically known from other reports is that on June 14, 2007, patient Mario Vidaurre died at West Oaks when the one-on-one tech assigned to him beat him to death [see "Death in a Box," by Margaret Downing, October 25, 2007]. An investigation by the state found West Oaks was at fault. On March 22, 2007, Alan Chambers, a man who was supposed to be under suicide watch, hung himself behind the closed door of his room on Unit 1. On May 12, 2006, a 17-year-old girl who tried to hang herself with one of her shoelaces was allowed to keep the other shoelace of the pair in her West Oaks room.

Frederick Williams, the tech who fought with Vidaurre and caused his death, has left the psychiatric center and retained an attorney to represent him in a lawsuit against his former employer. He's arguing he had no business being assigned to Vidaurre; he never got trained for that kind of job.

Amanda Lilley ended up with an untreated broken arm. As bad as that was, it could have been worse.
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West Oaks, at 6500 Hornwood, is accredited with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. It enjoys a generally good reputation in Houston. When local public psychiatric hospitals' beds are full, they often redirect patients to West Oaks.

Its executive medical director, Dr. George Santos, is highly regarded. He was named to the Harris County Hospital District Board of Managers just this March; County Judge Ed Emmett spoke of Santos's "impeccable credentials." Santos did not return a call from the Houston Press.

West Oaks takes on more difficult cases than most mental health facilities want to deal with, and some relatives say they welcome it as an alternative to a state mental institution.

That was the case for Mary (not her real name) and her family, who came to West Oaks from Illinois. Mary's younger 17-year-old sister, whom we'll call Renee, had been a patient at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, but had to leave. An acute-care facility, the Mayo Clinic had already had Renee there longer than the three-to-five-day standard stay. Renee had already exhausted most of the psychiatric hospitals near her home, so they had to look farther for a place where she could stay for a longer time, Mary says. The Mayo Clinic referred Renee to the also prestigious Menninger Clinic in Houston.

But Renee was too tough for Menninger, at 2801 Gessner Drive. The morning after her arrival, she grabbed a pair of scissors and injured several staff members, Mary says. Menninger said it was transferring her, and when Renee's mom put up a protest, she was told they had the right to move her without the family's consent. Mary says Menninger told them that they usually transfer to Baylor, but its beds were full, so Renee was admitted to the adolescent program at West Oaks on May 11, 2006.

What Renee's family found upon their arrival convinced them their concern was warranted. Mary describes West Oaks as dirty and dark, and as "a large cement room with a cement floor." As Mary later wrote in a letter to the Mayo Clinic, "The staff frequently laughed, joked, talked and used foul language among themselves while ignoring the needs of the children." Kids were sitting around, staring, watching some TV, but not engaged in anything, she says. This differed from other facilities where her sister had stayed, which had very structured activities. She wonders if part of the reason it seemed so disorganized was that West Oaks had an influx of adolescent patients from Hurricane Katrina.

Because of her violent behavior, Renee was assigned a one-on-one caretaker. Mary talked with her and found out she was a nursing school dropout. Mary says the woman told her she had received no training from West Oaks.

When she and her mother came to visit, Mary says the heavily medicated Renee was afraid to talk about her treatment, waiting until staff stepped away to mention anything. "She told me that they were threatening to hit her if she hit them. She was very afraid that she would get out of control and have a violent episode and not be able to control herself."

While the phone reports her family was getting from West Oaks were consistently positive, Mary says they'd arrive to find unexplained bruises and cuts on Renee's body. They found out later, she says, that Renee had gotten scissors again. They found out because Renee told them, and then the staff finally confirmed it.

Renee's back was injured when a tech wrestled her to the floor when she was acting out and got on top of her to hold her down, Mary says, adding that her 5'8" sister weighed about 110 pounds then.

Another time, Mary says, "They were moving across the room with her and they didn't have the right number of people, and they ended up dropping her. She was very banged up by the time she left."

On May 12, Renee attempted suicide in her room, using one of her shoelaces to try to hang herself. "They took that shoelace away and put it in her chart, but they left the other shoelace in the shoe in her room," Mary says. She discovered this when they had a subsequent family therapy meeting during which Renee asked when she was getting her shoelace back, because she wanted both of them. The counselor did a double take and asked if she still had the shoelace. Renee said, "Yeah, it's in my room," according to Mary.

The family was finally able to get a doctor to release Renee to the Mayo Clinic. She left West Oaks early in the morning of May 15, 2006, and was back at Mayo the next day. According to Mary, Renee got a lot worse during her brief stay at West Oaks. "There was a lot of undoing to do once she got back up to Mayo Clinic."

Caught up in dealing with a very troubled sister in crisis, Mary says she now regrets not taking more names or pressing forward more immediately with more state agencies about her sister's experiences. Months later, she contacted Menninger Clinic's Vice President for Quality Services, Pegi Pung, who wrote her that she would be forwarding her complaints to the Menninger staffers who referred Renee to West Oaks, as well as to Menninger's "clinical team who review the facilities where we refer patients." Pung wrote that she would get back to her with the results of that investigation.

A month later, when Mary received the exact same letter from Pung, she called the administrator. Pung told her she needed to call West Oaks, Mary says. When Mary protested that West Oaks was the problem, she says Pung told her she couldn't do anything about it and that Mary needed to talk with West Oaks. According to Mary, when she argued that Menninger had a responsibility because it was referring patients to West Oaks, Pung said that if Menninger has someone in an acute situation, they have to go somewhere, and if there are no beds open elsewhere, then West Oaks is the choice. Pung did not respond to calls from the Press, but another senior vice president, Shawna Morris, did on her behalf. Asked why Menninger would continue to refer patients to West Oaks when a relative was reporting bad treatment there, her response was:

"We really can't comment on it. It's not our case; it's not our patient; it didn't happen at Menninger. So I stand behind what Pegi Pung put in her letter, that Menninger cannot really get involved in another provider and the relationship that patient has with what happened at another facility. I regret that we really cannot comment any further on this case." Asked again why they would continue to send patients to West Oaks when it has been sanctioned by the state, Morris said:

"We refer patients to facilities that can provide a level of care that Menninger does not provide. So we refer patients to West Oaks, we refer patients to Kingwood Hospital, to the Methodist Hospital, to IntraCare, to all of the acute locked units. When we can't take care of the patients, we can't keep them, so we refer them out to the local hospitals."

Even if the state has fined them and said they aren't taking care of patients correctly, that they have unsanitary conditions? "I really can't comment on that," Morris said.

Mary got a better response from the state of Texas. In a letter dated April 15, 2007, Ronda Tewell of the Health Facility Compliance Division of the Texas Department of State Health Services wrote her that their investigation of West Oaks's treatment of her sister showed that "the facility had violated one or more of the applicable regulatory requirements." Violations were identified and deficiencies cited. As to what the state specifically found wrong, it won't say.

Lucinda DeBruce, CEO of West Oaks, did not return calls from the Press for comment on this story. Janet Codamo, West Oaks's director of performance improvement, also did not return calls.
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Schoolteacher Annetta Hudson worked for West Oaks from 2004 until 2007, one year full-time, the other two part-time. "I don't know about that hospital. They have a lot of things that aren't right," she says.

"We're supposed to have certain classes...and they don't do it, but when the state gets ready to come in, they want you to sign all these papers that make it look like you have gone to all these classes."

Hudson said she went outside West Oaks to keep up her training, such as keeping herself current in CPR classes.

Staffing was always a problem, she says. During the day there would be three techs, one medications nurse and one RN who would do all the charting for 20 patients on a unit. In the evening this would drop to two techs, and the overnight shift, she says, would often drop to one tech. In the juvenile units, she says, the chart nurse would be responsible for three units.

Often, she says, counselors might make it to one group patient session, but for the most part the techs were running these meetings.

Whereas Hudson had previously worked as a nurse's aide and holds a pharmacist technician's license, she says many of the techs hired had no background in psychiatry. "Mostly they hire big guys. They don't do too many females, but they did a lot of big guys. Some of those guys have been in prison or jail."

She says she left because West Oaks wasn't giving raises, and she and others were stuck at $11 an hour. She says she saw several changes in management while there, but no real changes in operation. They did renovate three units before she left.

The Reverend Perry Boutte worked as a tech for West Oaks for one month in 2005 before he injured himself on another job and was unable to return to work. He complained to West Oaks and the state of Texas, saying he saw adult patients fraternizing with adolescent patients and staffers making no attempt to stop this.

Boutte says he had gone to West Oaks to work on his license for chemical dependency counseling, but was instead sent to psych. He says he has numerous years of experience working in psychiatric hospitals, but most of his co-workers did not. "There was a one-week orientation, and then people were just thrown out on the floor."

There wasn't sufficient staff to do the job with, Boutte says. Added to that, he says, "it just seemed like the people they had working there didn't know what they were doing. It was just a constant chaotic situation; everything was always up in the air."

In 2001, West Oaks was acquired by Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., which also owns Cypress Creek Hospital in Houston and Kingwood Pines in Kingwood in the Houston area. The company, headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, owns other facilities in Texas, and its 2007 10-K filing to the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission says it operates 90 owned or leased in-patient facilities, with more than 10,000 licensed beds in 31 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In a recent press release, it said it ranked 49th on Fortune magazine's 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America list.

The 10-K report of PSI (PSYS on the New York stock exchange) declares its operating strategy: "We intend to focus on improving our profitability by optimizing staffing ratios, controlling contract labor costs and reducing supply costs through group purchasing."

In its 10-K, Psychiatric Solutions disclosed that it was spending 54.6 percent of its total revenue on salaries, wages and benefits. This was a slight decrease from 2006, when it spent 55.2 percent of its total revenue on the so-called SWB package.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, puts out an annual report used to develop its Medicare psychiatric payment system. Its 2007 survey of all psychiatric care facilities shows that about 65.8 percent of all revenue is spent on staffing at the average psychiatric hospital.

So Psychiatric Solutions and its hospitals are spending more than 11 percentage points less on staffing than the average psychiatric hospital. It also appears to be practicing economics by hiring a significant number of part-time employees. "As of December 31, 2007, we employed approximately 21,800 employees, of whom approximately 14,800 are full-time." This means that 7,000 employees were part-time, roughly 32 percent of its workforce.

Psychiatric Solutions responded to inquiries from the Houston Press by e-mail. The company's statement ignored questions about its own corporate operations and hiring policy and instead just couched its answers in terms of West Oaks. In total, it read:

"Our doctors, nurses, and therapy staff are sincerely committed to providing the best possible treatment to our patients in a manner which is caring, respectful, and focused principally on the safety and well-being of the patient.

"We work closely with the state of Texas, the Joint Commission, CMS and other regulatory agencies in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable ­requirements.

"West Oaks, like most health care providers, employs some part-time staff to allow for flexibility as patient populations shift.

"All staff are required to complete an orientation and extensive clinical training led by certified instructors before they go into clinical areas. Many programs are facilitated by the facility medical staff and all are approved by applicable oversight groups.

"Our staffing levels meet or exceed State requirements at all times."

Another Psychiatric Solutions facility, Cypress Creek in Houston, has also been sanctioned by the state in the past year. Its violations in two separate incidents resulted in $65,000 in fines and mirrored those cited at the West Oaks facility.

Mary says when she went to visit her sister Renee, she saw a male and a female staff member flirt and then grope each other right in front of her. She said the same sort of thing occurred among the patients, and the staff made no attempt to stop the activity. In addition, she says, staff members often reacted angrily, screaming and slamming doors themselves, which often sparked crying on the children's part. Patients who were going out of control were ignored, she says, and her mom was almost hit in the head with a chair thrown by a patient.

Patients were mocked by doctors and staff, she says. For example, one girl having trouble manipulating her silverware in order to feed herself was laughed at by staff members, who didn't help her either, Mary says.

In a somewhat bizarre twist, Frederick Williams, the tech who got in a fight with 41-year-old Vidaurre that led to the patient's death, has retained an attorney to represent him in a lawsuit against West Oaks, claiming he never should have been put in the position of providing one-on-one care to Vidaurre because he'd never been trained to do something like that.

Williams was alone with Vidaurre in the smoking area of the hospital when Vidaurre, who had been agitated for days, punched him in the face. A fight broke out in the locked courtyard area which has no video cameras, buzzer or alarm system. By the time it was over, Mario Vidaurre was dead. The autopsy report showed Vidaurre had suffered multiple rib fractures, laceration of the heart and injuries to his intestines, back, abdomen, chest, wrist, face, neck, buttocks, shoulders, both forearms and both knees.

Attorney Kerry Guidry of Robert Kwok & Associates says Frederick Williams was seriously injured as well.

"He broke his hand, had surgery on his hand, knocked his head open, cut it pretty severely and then his mental anguish and the mental aspects of taking another man's life. Even in self-defense that's taken a heavy toll on him."

Williams was no-billed by a grand jury that found he acted in self-defense, but an investigation by the Texas Department of State Health Services found that "the facility staff failed to protect the patient's rights to a safe environment and therefore resulted in the patient's death."

Williams's suit hasn't been filed yet, but it's going to say that they didn't properly train Williams as a one-on-one caretaker of someone as violently disturbed as Vidaurre and they didn't staff adequately, Guidry says. "It's pretty obvious he never should have been there by himself."

If Williams had been trained a little better, if there had been more help available, or if there had been an alarm system in the hospital's smoking area where the two men were by themselves, Guidry says Mario Vidaurre might not have died.
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Muhammad "Mo" Aziz is the attorney who took on West Oaks when Chaz Vidaurre came to him with the story of his brother's death. Although it looked for a while as though West Oaks was going to settle the case, Aziz says it now appears it will be tried, and he has filed the lawsuit alleging medical malpractice.

Aziz, of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels & Friend, has just become involved in another case against West Oaks. He is representing Alma and Alveh Chambers, parents of Alan Chambers. Brought to West Oaks after trying to kill himself, Alan was allowed to go into his room, slamming the door behind him, and remain there undisturbed long enough to tear up and braid the bed linen he used to hang himself with.

Cynthia Pickett, attorney with the firm of Doyle Restrepo Harvin & Robbins, is representing Alan Chambers's wife Linda and the couple's three children, ranging in age from ten to 17, in a similar action against West Oaks.

Both attorneys make the same point: Why was an obviously disturbed and agitated man, who'd just been brought in after attempting to kill himself, left to his own devices?

His twin brother Greg says Alan started going in and out of depression when he was about 38. He'd get treatment for around three months and then would be good for another year and a half. Eventually, the bouts of depression took their toll and Alan moved out of his home, taking a garage apartment.

On the day of his suicide attempt, he'd gone to his wife's office and slit his wrists in what everyone described as superficial cuts. From there, he returned to his apartment, where he took every pill he had and then tried to assemble a pipe gun just as EMTs broke into his apartment, Pickett says.

Greg says his groggy brother was taken first to Cy Fair Hospital off Jones and 1960 and then on to West Oaks, arriving there at about 3 a.m. on March 21, 2007. Alan had been treated there on an outpatient basis for his deepening depression over the Christmas holidays, Pickett says.

At West Oaks, Alan was initially assigned to Unit 2. At all times he was under suicide watch. He promptly tried to leave the floor and was reassigned to Unit 1, where they could allegedly tighten the suicide precautions and the watch on him. When his medications wore off, he got violent. It was noted on the charts that he should be monitored very, very closely, Pickett says.

Later that same day, in the afternoon, Greg came to see his brother, but Alan was in a bad mood and they talked for only ten to 15 minutes in the TV room before Greg thought it best to go. The next day, Alan's parents came to see him about 4:30 p.m. Alan still had on his bloody work shirt and became upset when his mother tried to persuade him to change it, Greg says. Greg's wife had brought over clothes for Alan earlier. Instead, Alan asked his mother to get him out of there, and when she told him she thought he should stay, he went in his room and slammed the door, Greg says.

By the time Greg and his wife got there, at about 5:15 p.m., their parents were gone. He asked to see his brother, but was stopped at the nursing desk and told his brother might not want to see them. While they waited, an orderly went to Alan's room to check on him, opened the door, hesitated a moment and then said, "He hung himself."

A nurse went in the room, and Greg and his wife were close behind. Alan had looped his makeshift rope over a closet door. They pushed the beds back, and Greg and a nurse began alternating CPR. Greg remembers that his twin's hands were still warm.

As he stayed in the room with his brother, Greg, an engineer with training in emergency trauma at offshore rigs, says the scene was chaotic. One or two of the staff members appeared to know what they were doing, but the rest, he says, didn't. An ambulance finally arrived and took Alan to Memorial Hermann Southwest. Over the next several days his family, including Alan's wife, remained at his side, optimistic that their vigil would have a positive outcome.

That night, as Greg tried to compose himself in the wake of trying to save his brother, he and his wife were pulled into a room with a West Oaks director and another person. "They were saying if people are suicidal, they're going to do it anyway. I couldn't believe they were telling me they have no control."

"What is particularly tragic about this is that he was still in the bloody clothes that he'd appeared in," Pickett says. "They had not changed him into any hospital gowns. Somebody's in a hospital in which they're there for over 24 hours in bloody clothes. Who's paying attention?

"They just absolutely ignored him."

At the time of his hanging on March 22, 2007, Alan Chambers had been at West Oaks for about 38 hours. He died about five days later at Memorial Hermann Southwest, three hours after the family took him off life support.
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At least every 15 days for more than two years now, Loretta Lilley has carefully saved the same message on her cell phone. It is her one bit of proof that West Oaks administrators knew her daughter had not been cared for correctly.

In the message, Kelly Turner, program director for youth services at West Oaks, says she's talked with Janet Codamo, director of performance improvement, and chief nursing officer Joyce Winters about what happened to Amanda.

"I'm doing a thorough investigation, and training and disciplinary action is needed. I'm so sorry, and I'm appalled at what happened to Amanda, and I want to know how she's doing, and if you have any questions, anything at all, please, please call me."

Later, Turner goes on to say: "I want you to know that we are definitely taking this with a heavy heart and very, very firm measures. This is not acceptable, and I am truly so very sorry."

Loretta says right after she found out Amanda's arm was broken, she called the hospital and spoke with Codamo, who told Loretta that her daughter did not get the proper attention and should have had an X-ray; Loretta also spoke with Winters, who told her that "the staff doesn't keep good records."

From all of this, Lilley was encouraged to believe that West Oaks would set about changing some of its policies. She did think it was strange that Turner called her from her cell phone rather than one of the West Oaks phones. Now, Lilley says, she thinks that was done so there would be no official record at West Oaks that a call with such an admission was ever made.

She filed a complaint with the Texas Department of State Health Services. The agency issued a finding of "inconclusive for abuse." Loretta wonders if they would have substantiated an allegation of neglect — as she understood it, children are not supposed to be behind closed doors at the facility, even for time-out. "You do not put an autistic, mentally retarded child with a seizure disorder in her room unsupervised by herself. That to me is neglect."

Former employee Hudson confirmed the policy is to keep the doors open for children because there's too great an opportunity they'll get into trouble if left unsupervised in their rooms.

Loretta says her husband made the rounds of attorneys, but no one would take Amanda's case, saying it wasn't provable or there wasn't enough money in it. She appealed to her congressman, Kevin Brady, for help, and she says he told her the best thing she could do was to move out of Texas if she wanted to get help with Amanda's problems.

Amanda is eight years old now, living at home with good days and bad. She went through a period where she ripped out her own teeth. She scratched her ears repeatedly till they bled. When sensations overcome her, she hides in a box in the front room closet. She loves purses and changing clothes and cats. But she's strangled a kitten — it scratched her — and has tried to drown and has hit other kittens until someone intervened.

Her accounts of how her arm broke vary and sometimes differ from the hospital's version that she was slamming her door and then hit it with her hand. Sometimes she says she was being bad, other times that a "black man pushed" her. The truth will probably never be known. There's no record that a doctor looked at it, despite what Loretta was told by phone. On March 1 a note on the nursing chart says there was no pain in that location, which Loretta finds darkly humorous now.

A short while after getting out of West Oaks for the second time, Amanda was sent to Austin State Hospital after being rough with her siblings and beating her mother with her permanent cast to the point where Loretta was bleeding. It took them three weeks to detox her off her meds before they could evaluate her.

Back in public school in Conroe, Amanda is working to regain some of her lost skills. Being mainstreamed in kindergarten was a nonstarter; she doesn't get along well with kids her age, and she was having a lot of seizures. Now that she is in special life skills classes at Armstrong Elementary with a lot of structure, she's doing better. She can count to ten and is learning shapes and colors. She's stuck at age four right now mentally; it's unknown whether she'll improve. At night, she sleeps in diapers. The parents have learned some better techniques to help calm her.

Her mom and dad say they will never put her in an institution, but they have checked out some other mental health programs in Texas. Amanda has pica as well — she eats dirt and paper — and many places won't take her because of that.

Jim works in vinyl siding and is on the road a lot. So most of the work with Amanda falls on Loretta, a homemaker who now goes to seminars all the time trying to find out more about the mental health system.

They do have help now through the Home Community Based program. Tabitha Etheridge comes for a 3-to-7 p.m. shift five days a week to help with Amanda. They're waiting to see how long she lasts; Amanda has routed a succession of helpers.

They know they won't put her back in West Oaks, but they really don't have too many other options. Emergency room runs usually are a disaster; upset by her surroundings, Amanda runs through the room hurting other patients, Loretta says. They don't want to put her in another psychiatric hospital. An autistic treatment center might be the answer; there are only a few in this area, and funding is tricky. Autistic service dogs are supposed to be calming miracle workers, but they cost $6,000, Loretta says.

She wrote a poem to Amanda, working out some of her frustrations, but declaring her love for her at the same time. It reads, in part:

I hate your disabilities and all that goes with it

But without those disabilities I wouldn't have the Amanda I know and love

You are my Amanda my sweet little Amanda

"The only option I have is to take care of her myself with the help of Tabitha," Loretta says. "I don't know what there is out there for parents like myself, but I can guarantee you it's not hospitalization. You don't know what's going on behind their doors."

margaret.downing@houstonpress.com

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27 comments
alexispierson0917
alexispierson0917

I feel like most of these stories are not completely true. I went to west oaks last year, they treated everyone just fine. . except for when they were bad, they got punished. The staff there may be strict but not like evil like you guys are making it out to be. But I guess everyone has their own opinions.

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

I am literally MORTIFIED! My mother was sent there last night by Methodist West Hospital, which in itself, is a questionable medical facility, in my opinion! I was the only visitor and it appeared as though they thought I was a patient but was clearly labeled a visitor. The staff is so incredibly ignorant and lacked any training. A male patient in INTAKE busted a window while in solitary confinement so the staff being uneducated proceeded to put him back with the other mentally unstable folks there. (around 15-20) The male patient rocked back and forth while spewing file and threatening comments to the other patients. He then proceeded to punch the vending machine. There was a 14 yr old young lady that was there because of a rape and the staff allowed her to witness all the craziness. I was forced to leave my mother in INTAKE so I sat in the lobby until I could speak with the "DIRECTOR" who was clueless and did not have control of the staff nor the patients. As I sat in the lobby, the MALE staff members gathered in the lobby to watch the NBA Finals instead of helping with the chaotic situation that was transpiring in INTAKE! Something has to be done about this place and this is not the place to make things happen. PLEASE start reporting these things to Texas Department of Human Services. The Nigerian workers are rude, uneducated and are only there for a pay check. Mentally Ill people are being neglected, abused and treated worse than animals. If this were animals, PETA would have stepped in before now.

Larrybels
Larrybels

My son was here he stated that one of the staff punched him in his side well I went to the supervisor who said that didn't happen here how much can u believe from a child that's here.kids will say anything to get home.well it may have made since at first but then I sat back and said no he isn't making this up because another child seen it.we will make investigation my next question was how do I get him out of this hospital they said oh no we will get the court involved and cps. I had no choice but to leave him well I couldnt visit the next day but the following day I visit my child just as I walked in the door the same staff was working didn't say anything to the staff member but just as my visit began my child stated that the staff had told him I should get u again cause I don't like snatches so I went back to the supervisor who said kids lie they will tell u anything we looked at the tapes and didn't see anything so i dont believe your son.I told him u can't see in the room anyways they try to hold shit above your head with court and cps do whatever u gotta do is how I feel kids are there for help and maybe some people there do care but some feel like they can do whatever they want like being abusive to the kids thinking they scare them.not mine he talks believe me there's alot of shady stuff happen on unit 8.parent teach your kids to tell u everything going on!!!!¡!!!

Mistreated Patient
Mistreated Patient

I was a patient at Texas West Oaks Hospital in 2008 for a self injury problem. (Cutting.) I was in Child Protective Services (CPS) and had a long record of acting out & self injurious behavior. I had already been in most of the Residential Treatment Centers and Mental Institutions in the Houston area, and the ones I hadn't been to rejected me at the sight of my file... so when I was admitted, the average 3-5 day stay was a 6 month stay for me. After 2 weeks, I was ready for discharge, I just had no place to go. The staff members were unqualified and cold-hearted. Their ways were cruel and unusual. When a patient became upset, they would restrain them in ways I couldn't imagine could be legal. I was restrained twice while there, and both times the staff members pulled my arms behind my back and raised them as far as they would go, touching the back of my head. They put all their weight on your back and push you to the floor. Its next to impossible to breath and your arms start to ache and eventually go numb. They call a "Code Green" over the intercom and a nurse rushes to the unit with what patients call "Booty Juice". Its 2 shots, one of Benedryl and one of Thorzine. It makes you feel like a zombie. If they consider you too out of control, they'd throw you in an empty room, sometimes for hours on end.I was prescribed several anti-depressants and anti-pshycotics that made me tired all the time. It was so hard to stay awake, I often took naps during the day. The nurses didn't like it, so they had my doctor write an order to put a lock on my door. I couldn't get in from 7:30 a.m to 9:00 p.m. Most of the time I fell asleep sitting up in the day area. Another thing that is extremely wrong is, one time I got ahold of something in the facility and cut a severe gash in my arm. It obviously needed stitches, the gash was 2 inches wide and you could see muscle. I hadn't intended on hurting myself that bad, so I told the nurse what I did. She laughed at me and wouldn't even give me a bandaid. I didn't end up getting any care for it. This place is corrupt, and no place to go for mental health treatment. I've haven't hurt myself in 2 years, and no thanks to this place.

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

W.O. Patient
W.O. Patient

I was admitted (against my will) to this "hospital" just a couple weeks ago. As with most of the other reviews on this website, this place is a joke. First off, I was taken to the Ben Taub emergency room in the back of a police car after I had told my counselor that I had suicidal thoughts. The police assured me that my involuntary stay at whatever mental hospital I would check in to I would be out of in 2-3 days. My suicide story was then blown up into making the doctor an Ben Taub to believe that I had a specific plan and means to carry my thoughts out. Neither of those I actually had, but no matter how hard i tried to convince her otherwise, I was told that I would stay in the emergency room until there was a bed at a mental hospital available. Otherwise, I could leave by myself, be taken back by the police, and be committed. If my parents decided to take me home, the same thing would happen, only CPS would be notified. Turns out a bed was not open in any of the mental hospitals around Houston until the next morning. When we heard that West Oaks was available, we looked around for others as we had heard bad things about WO. Nothing was available, so we decided to get my "treatment" over with and just go to WO. Again, my story was exaggerated and nobody would believe me (as I was in a mental hospital I can't blame them too much on that) so they told me to take my shoelaces out and put me in the adolescent boy's unit. I decided that I would do whatever it took to get myself out of the place as quick as possible, so I assumed from what the police CIT said, I'd be gone in two days, and then I'd be back to the real world. I was mistaken. Everyone at the hospital said my stay would be more likely be 5-7 days, depending on how well I recovered. I found out soon after that that my stay would depend solely on my behavior and the behavior of others around me. I went in and told my doctor what he wanted to hear to let me leave. Every patient did the same. We all had talks of how we got to WO and most of the stories involved police and Ben Taub. We talked about how to leave. This basically meant doing what the techs told you, not trying to leave or cause fights, and going to group sessions. Group sessions basically involved the techs talking to you for an hour. Almost no therapy, and the emphasis was the techs. Other than that, the staff thought of the patients as a bother more than anything else. There were some nice ones, some mean ones, mostly indifferent ones. If you caused too much of a ruckus, the nurse would give you a shot that was only known to us as "booty juice" (because guess where they stuck it) which was basically like a tranquilizer. During my 6 day stay, it was given to two different people, neither of which started a fight or was violent in any manner. Other than that, I have read the comment from OldEmployee where the techs talked about their best takedown, and can confirm it. There were kids in my unit that used dip right under the noses of the techs, whether they knew and didn't care or were too caught up in all the other important stuff they were doing (checking their phones) I don't know. The nice techs talked about the quickest ways to leave, and the mean ones assured us we'd be back at WO or some other mental hospital, and if they felt at a loss of power that day, they threatened "lockdown" which made what already seemed like a jail pretty much just a jail. During lockdown, which lasted for no less than one week and could go up to 3 months or so, made group sessions every thirty minutes rather than every two or so hours, and in between group inmates would be confined to their rooms. There would be no discharges, no visits from anyone, no calls out of the hospital. Also, it was up to the patients to make sure no other patients would act out. By the time I left, a very troubled person was trying to control his anger at another patient. None of the techs or any of the staff seemed to care, only the patients tried to help. Twice another fellow patient had an asthma attack in the gym. He couldn't bring his inhaler because it was a mental hospital, and I tried to get the tech to help. All he did was call someone and watch from a distance while I scrambled with a couple other kids to help him keep awake. The second time, a different tech started yelling at him and then laughing at him, and none of the patients dared telling them to do otherwise because they could always give us booty juice on a whim. I could go on and on and on about the total lack of competence this place has, but I won't. Seeing this news story gave me no surprise at all. The whole mental health system that I was put through (especially since I was sent to WO) just made for an awful, unhelpful experience. The only thing I have learned from this episode is to not trust the next counselor I talk to, since if I let my mouth slip about any thought of suicide, I could be placed back here or some other place just as bad. The thought of me being in a mental hospital doesn't make me feel too great either, and I naturally lied as to where I was (I said I was in "a hospital" for the flu), which that started rumors that I was in for substance abuse to top it all off. Now my parents are receiving bills for my stay. All to "stabilize" me from my "dangerous thoughts." In reality, My experience with Houston's mental health system makes me question if they really want to help at all (not that I needed any immediate stabilization in the first place), or if they just want to make sure someone doesn't do something to make them look bad.

Previouspatient
Previouspatient

I was admitted into the adolescent wing at West Oaks in 2008 because I had suicidal thoughts after a traumatic experience. I was 15. The place was dirty, dark and cold (There were roaches and clumps of hair in the bathroom). Other than that, I witnessed something very peculiar. There was a girl in my wing who claimed to have been sexually molested by two of the boys (the wings were co-ed) while the group was outside. I remember that after she told the staff what happened she was locked in her room for two days without company because she was a "problem" and the fact that the boys touched her was "her fault". What a joke

Old employee
Old employee

I worked at this hospital for over 2 years in the business office, performance improvement and accounting. The things that happen behind those locked doors would astonish most of you. If you want your family member to live and not be charged for dying, don't bring them to West Oaks Hospital. This hospital is run by individuals that do not qualify for their positions. The directors and execs are underpaid because they don't qualify. The training to take down an aggressive patient is a joke. Basically, it's a street fight. I've been in many "code greens" where the techs laugh and joke over who had the best "take down." I've seen woman have their arms twisted so far behind their back, I thought it was going to snap. The billing department is a joke. Susan Clour is a stupid bitch that had sex with her boss to get to where she is now. If you have medicare and medicaid, you better hope they pay all of your bill. If you don't, she'll be sending you a bill. Against medicare rules right? Yeah. I'm surprised that this company hasn't gone under. The faulty accounting methods are a joke also. Don't take their bottom line revenue seriously. All the numbers are made up or "adjusted" to make the company look good. If you're family member or friend is sexually active, don't bring them to West Oaks cause a employee will try to have sex with her. If he does, the rest of the employees will try to have sex with her also so they can exploit her. Patients have hung themselves in the middle of the night because techs were sleep or off on a different unit. This place is not a hospital, it's a jail cell. Once you get behind the locked doors, they can file a warrant through the court and have you admitted agaist your will. If you have a mental issue, I strongly suggest that you get care at a different hospital. It will save your life. As for George Santos, he's a self righteous bastard. He's never wrong and does whatever he wants around that place. I was told not to check his charts because he always makes mistakes and they didn't want to report his mistakes to the corporate office. I did anyway and noticed that he would issue a bunch of drugs without justifying why the patient needed the drugs. Most of the people that work their are not quailified to work there. Some of the directors don't even have a BA. Long story short, this place is a death trap.

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.i also understand that some people do need serious medical help however westoaks is not the place

JayR
JayR

Wow. I worked at West Oaks for several years in the early eighties and it was NOTHING like this.

We had training of some kind almost every day.

It sounds like it has gone the way of most other mental health facilities in this country.

Too bad. Someone there should care more. And by 'there' I mean inside West Oaks AND the regulatory boards in Texas whose job it is to oversee them.

And RW - You seem to have a gift for the obvious. What the reporter didn't write about could fill the ocean. Congrats on so cleverly presenting your agenda at the same time that you discount someone else for doing the exact same thing.

RL
RL

Ms. Downing could have authored an insightful article describing the complex problems facing the mental health system in Houston. Instead she penned a grade B movie script, much like a John Wayne western from the 40's, in black and white, featuring the "good guys" and the "bad guys."

She could have investigated how pricing pressures from Medicare/ Medicaid and the insurance companies have forced most psychiatric facilities to close. Psych Hospitals like West Oaks charged $ 400 a day in 1981, and are paid $500-550 now, a decline of 40 % after inflation is taken into consideration. That's if, and when, the insurance companies decide to pay anything whatsoever. The Memorial system caught on faster than others, and closed all their psychiatric beds a decade ago because they were losing money.

Ms. Downing states "When local public psychiatric hospitals' beds are full, they often redirect patients to West Oaks," implying this is some act of generosity on the county's part. She fails to mention these are all charity patients, and that West Oaks provides millions of dollars annually in free care to indigents. In fact, emergency rooms as far away as Freeport or Galveston routinely send their indigent patients to West Oaks, which takes care of them like any other patient, but for free.

Ms. Downing could have examined how Texas ranks at the bottom in the country in provision of mental health services, and prefers to spend its resources incarcerating prisoners, and that many poor people can only get their chemical dependence treatment in TDC.

In a "let them eat cake" moment Ms. Downing implies Menninger's is stooping low to refer to West Oaks. She could have explained how Menninger's charges $1000 a day, payable in advance, and doesn't take insurance. They also don't treat very sick patients, and exclude any one who's suicidal, assaultive, or particularly psychotic. Ms. Downing needs to digest the unfortunate truth that the unwashed masses of middle income Houstonians have managed care insurance and can't afford Menninger's and instead use the services of West Oaks or similar facilities.

She could have even visited the other psych hospitals in the area (i.e. Intracare, Cypress Creek), and she would have noticed they all look the same and operate similarly. She might have even discovered the common denominator of why that is if she'd only looked hard enough (The clue's in the 2nd paragraph, Ms. Downing!).

Perhaps Ms. Downing should be excused for writing a one-dimensional article, since she was constrained to 6 pages or less. Or maybe next time she just needs to do her homework first.

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

RL- You're a self absorbed idiot in the truest sense of the word! I'd be willing to bet you have some affiliation with this facility! This does NOT happen at all mental health facilities, public or private! This facility sucks insurance companies DRY! If a patient has insurance, they assure a LONG stay. If you are uninsured, you are released without any knowledgeable treatment. Why don't you take a tour of this "Not so Fabulous" HELL HOLE? KUDOS to Ms. Downing for her reporting just a fraction of all the bad things that the monsters at this hospital do to their patients that are there for treatment, not mis-treatment! They are lazy and sedate, rather than treat!

george
george

hey "S", commentor on may 15th, everyone has someone in the family with mental illness, its people like you looking to blame others for it, or critisize others for trying to do what you cant or wont. I dont see any one supporting the hospital or the employees, I see bad reporting, no facts and a bunch of bozo's who dont know how to do anything other than point the finger at some one else in hopes of taking away some of thier own guilt!

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

KING GEORGE- Obviously, you have no idea what you are talking about. Mental Illness is not a crutch, it's a true disease....just as diabetes, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. Why don't you educate yourself before you post nonsense? You're a true brainiac, I think not!

cassie
cassie

Dear Sonja, let me just ask you this; how hard would you want YOUR son to fight back in a life or death struggle, with a crazed lunatic wacked out on drugs, that just happens to be a PROFESSIONAL fighter and already put other care givers in the emergency room, that comes attacking him? After you think about that a sec. You might also want to think like a grown up and realize that "most" reporting is one sided, imagine that!!!!! Dare I say it, the public didn't get all the facts? NEVER HEARD OF THAT HAPPENING BEFORE!!!

S
S

THOSE DEFENDING THE HOSPITAL OR THE ARTICLE HAVE OBVIOUSLY NEVER HAD A LOVED ONE CARED FOR BY THIS HOSPITAL. THERE IS PROABABLY MORE TO THIS ARTICLE THAN HAS SURFACED.

Jack
Jack

Sounds to me like the person who wrote this story was on a deadline, had nothing, and went back to re-write some old story she had previously written. Perhaps Ms. Downing would like to do a cover feature story on the chad issue in the Florida presidential election.......again...... I realize that it's the Houston Press and all, but come on- cant you guys write something that is perhaps current news? My opinion is that this article smells fishy - kinda like an attorney thats stirring the pot. Shame on you guys.

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

Hey Jack! Sounds to me like YOU have nothing better to do but comment on something that you have no knowledge of! My opinion is that you should educate yourself before spewing at the mouth! By the way, everyday someone is assaulted and mistreated by this facility. So, with that being said, it is VERY current news....EVEN 4 yrs later!

kw
kw

DR.Santos is pretty ill himself, a well known fact of anyone who has ever met him.

kw
kw

It's sad to see a reporter, although not uncommon at all, to not get all the facts and go for representing ratings only. I would think West Oaks does a lot more good then any one wants to admit. The other side or issue that no one wants to admit, or acknowledge, is how greatley disturbed these particular patients were. That is why they were not at home with thier perfect, capable family, and why other facilitys would not even try. Seems to me this reporter and the families that are providing half truths should be sued by every one mentioned in this article!!! It is people like this that are the reason there is so little help out there for people with mental issues. Mabe they prefer they go to jail instead as the criminally insane, which is what they were/are/will grow up to be!!!

Lori Green Walkup
Lori Green Walkup

Another uneducated "Gum Bumper" that has NO knowledge of Mental Illness! In fact, I suggest that YOU return back to elementary school so that you can be educated in Grammar and spelling! You're lacking basic elementary skills!

Sandy
Sandy

Joyce Winters was the Director or Nursing for West Oaks and she was not properly licensed to work as a nurse in the State of Texas.Dr. Santos is known among some as King George for a very good reason, petty, dictatorial come to mind.

Cassey S.
Cassey S.

It is unfortunate that our mental health system is set up so that administrators are well compensated while the persons who actually care for mental patients are underpaid, overworked and do not receive adequate training.

Why is it that facilities are allowed to stay open and provide care for patients even after they receive multiple citations? Texas should be ashamed of itself for the care it is providing for children in juvenile detention centers, mental health facilities and state schools. More and more there are news stories about abuse and neglect of children, the mentally ill and the mentally retarded who are under state care.

I don't think that there should be more funding until these facilities are made to invest in their work force and provide employees with fair pay, adequate training and support--you get what you pay for!

sonja
sonja

So Attorney Guidry wants to sue someone because the hand Fredrick Williams used to beat Mario to death was broken? You go, boyeeee!!! How dare West Oaks not equip Mr. Williams properly . . . say, a baseball bat, brass knuckles, or maybe a shotgun. And how dare Mario's 'multiple rib fractures, laceration of the heart and injuries to his intestines, back, abdomen, chest, wrist, face, neck, buttocks, shoulders, both forearms and both knees' break Mr. Williams hand. He should sue Mario's family also, for wrongful fracture. It seems Mario was overkilled, Fredrick Williams is evil, and his attorney is retarded. Got a little cut on your head, Freddy? I didn't see any mention of stitches, nor an explanation of how an unarmed patient caused the injury. Self-defense my ass - Fredrick Williams is a murderer and a sissy. He wouldn't have taken a patient that could have killed him into that death box.

Jimmy
Jimmy

Ouch. There are a lot of people out there that give doctors a bad name. Unfortunately, they tend to be the only doctors that the poor or middle class can afford. Caveat emptor, I'm afraid.

Amri DeLeon
Amri DeLeon

Well I don't know if County Judge Ed Emmett and Dr. Santos are from the same planet but several years ago Dr. Santos was my doctor while I had a short stay at West Oaks. He is certainly prescription happy, so prescrition happy that I had liver toxicity from all the un-needed meds he had me on. It is sad that the "good ole' boys Club still exists even in the medical field.

 
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