March 2012: A Somewhat Happy Ending

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I have spent considerable time on the phone the last few days with a woman who has had one of the most frustrating experiences you can imagine ever having with any medical facility, but especially UBH Denton.  Her child is there, and she couldn’t get him out… until tonight.  He is home and safe and sound.  I am happy about that.

After signing him in to protect him from depression, she soon discovered that he received little/no therapy, was denied his regular medication, and in four days saw a doctor two times, for about 5 minutes during each visit.  The Famous Dr. ____ who kept making decisions about their son’s welfare visited with the boy two times.  And one of those was AFTER he agreed to discharge him.

She went to fetch him Saturday night from the facility and was denied the right to take him without signing a letter agreeing that it was “against medical advice,” which causes a whole new set of legal problems.

Sunday night she and her husband went to get him and the doctor–the one who has spent 5 minutes with him over the course of four days–decided to put him on a 24 hour hold.  So at that point she was absolutely helpless.  You know, it would be different if she had been in contact with that doctor, but until Monday morning (he arrived late on Thursday night) she had no communication with him.

There are tons of details that will be published in the coming weeks.  But let me give you just a few examples:

1.  The parents were told they could leave up to $20 for their child to be allowed to purchase vending machine items.  They left him $10 and then discovered it was up to the staff to administer the money.  Not once was he given any of that money.  They did refund it to them at discharge, but, the real question is why the boy wasn’t allowed to get anything from the vending machines.

2.  The boy witnessed a staff member physically grab a 6 year old boy by the back of the neck, lift him up the air, and drop him to the floor.  The 6 year old was apparently misbehaving, but, the last time I checked good “mental health” practices did not dictate this kind of (alleged) physical abuse.

3.  The boy was taunted and verbally insulted by his own roommate.  Let’s keep in mind the purpose of his hospitalization was, from the beginning, to be protected from his own depression.  What kind of environment is it for a child who is already feeling down and out to be verbally abused by his roommate?

4.  The boy had no ability to use the bathroom in private.  The door to his bathroom did not close.  Most of us adults would just say “Hey, I can handle that,” but can you imagine the embarrassment and discomfort it would cause a 12 year old in a strange and unfamiliar place to have to defecate without privacy?  (No, he was not there for drugs or other behavior that might have justified taking away his right to privacy).  Someone has already commented to me that “duh, he was depressed, he shouldn’t be allowed to close the door,” but, the other patients had doors that closed.  And, he was not on a suicide watch to my knowledge.  And, if the hospital isn’t safe enough for you to take a dump with the door closed?  Maybe they need a serious risk management makeover?

There is lots more to tell.  And, it will be forthcoming soon enough.  Unless of course Ascend Health pulls out the big guns and tries to shut down my site.  Or me.  Or both.  I put nothing past them at this point.

Meanwhile, any reporters wanting to talk to me about this site, my experience at UBH, or the identities of the people who are also willing to share their experiences, should e-mail me at and I’ll respond within 24-48 hours.  If you’d like to contact the mother of the 12 year old boy, just e-mail me at that address and tell me to forward your information on to the mother.  I will take care of that right away.