Wow: This packs quite a punch ["Mental Anguish," by Margaret Downing, May 8]. Is Downing "gunning" for West Oaks Hospital? I very well remember her other article, "Death in a Box" [October 25, 2007] from last year. Both these articles raise many serious issues regarding the kind of care that may or may not be given at the hospital. However, West Oaks certainly comes off as the "villain." As written, the situation seems unfortunate and sad, but not hopeless. As someone who has worked as a "psych tech" and has much experience dealing with people with various psychiatric conditions, I know firsthand it can often be difficult (and sometimes dangerous) work. I'm simply offering that there is another side; I am not in a position to defend, nor am I affiliated with, West Oaks. If the facility is responsible for negligence, abuse, mistreatment and poor training of staff, then perhaps this article (and the lawsuits) will serve as a wake-up call to everyone from the top brass at Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. down to the actual hospital administrators, therapists and staff. Lastly, mental health professionals are supposed to help people take responsibility for their actions and not be afraid to make changes. Maybe West Oaks needs a few really good counseling sessions.
Online readers weigh in:
West Oaks Hospital
Ouch: There are a lot of people out there who 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.
Comment by Jimmy
Self-defense, my ass: So Attorney Guidry wants to sue someone because the hand Frederick Williams used to beat Mario to death with was broken? You go, boyeeee! How dare West Oaks not equip Williams properly — say, with 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 Williams's hand? He should sue Mario's family also, for wrongful fracture. It seems Mario was over-killed, Frederick Williams is evil and his attorney is retarded. Got a little cut on your head, Freddy? I didn't see any mention of stitches, or an explanation of how an unarmed patient caused the injury. Self-defense, my ass — Frederick Williams is a murderer and a sissy. He wouldn't have taken a patient that could have killed him into that death box.
Comment by sonja
Stop the funding: 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 without 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 it-self for the care it is providing children in juvenile detention centers, mental health facilities and state schools. More and more, there are news stories about abuse and neglect of children and the mentally ill who are understate care.
I don't think that there should be more funding until these facilities are made to invest in their workforce and provide employees with fair pay, adequate training and support — you get what you pay for!
Comment by Cassey S.
Half-truths: It's sad, although not uncommon, to see a reporter not get all the facts. I would think West Oaks does a lot more good than anyone wants to admit. The other side or issue that no one wants to acknowledge is how disturbed these particular patients were. That is why they were not at home with their families, and why other facilities would not even try. Seems to me this reporter and the families that are providing half-truths should be sued by everyone mentioned in this article. It is people like this who are the reason there is so little help out there for people with mental issues. Maybe they prefer they go to jail instead.
Comment by kw
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Follow the current: Sounds to me like the person who wrote this story was on a deadline, had nothing and went back to rewrite some old story she had previously written. Perhaps 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; can't you guys write something that is perhaps current news? My opinion is that this article smells fishy — kinda like an attorney who's stirring the pot. Shame on you guys.
Comment by Jack
Think about it: How hard would you want your son to fight back in a life-or-death struggle, with a crazed lunatic whacked out on drugs, who just happens to be a professional fighter and has already put other care-givers in the emergency room, when he attacks 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 that the public didn't get all the facts? Never heard of that happening before!
Comment by cassie