ARBOUR HEALTH SYSTEMS (AHS) – Universal’s Massachusetts Affiliate

Posted on January 13, 2012


• Largest ‘behavioral health-only’ chain in Mass., known for rights abuses on a large scale.

“Our staff views every patient as a fellow human being in crisis, who is entitled to empathy, dignity, respect, and the level of clinical excellence that each of us would want for ourselves and our loved ones.”

 – Arbour Health Systems CEO Gary Gilberti, on AHS website.

I believe it is wrong to say that ALL AHS facilities and staff are “bad.” I have heard positive accounts. However, please keep the above statement in mind, especially when reading the reviews below.

• Link to Arbour Health Systems website:

Arbour Health Systems – Hospitals and Outpatient Programs


Arbour Hospital, Boston – 118 beds

Arbour-Fuller Hospital, S.Attleboro (Rhode Island border) – 88 beds

Arbour-HRI Hospital, Brookline (adjoining Boston) – 68 beds

Lowell Treatment Center,* Lowell (Northeastern MA) – 26 beds

Pembroke Hospital, Pembroke (Southeastern MA) –    115 beds

Westwood Lodge Hospital, Westwood (Southeastern MA) – 89 beds

TOTAL # of beds: 504

* Lowell Treatment Center is considered a subsidiary of Westwood Lodge Hospital – even though the two are app. 30 miles apart!           

AHS is in the process of opening two new inpatient units. One is an adult unit in the Lowell Treatment Center facility, which had been for children only; and the other is a new unit in Quincy, south of Boston.


Arbour Outpatient Services – 11 locations in Central and Eastern MA:

Arbour SeniorCare – Behavioral health for seniors at 140 extended care/nursing homes in MA

Inpatient Services:

Adult Units: all six locations

Adolescent Units: at Arbour, Arbour-Fuller, Lowell, Pembroke and Westwood Lodge

Transition-Age Youth Unit: at Lowell Treatment Center

Childrens’ units: at Westwood Lodge and Lowell Treatment Center

Geriatric unit: at Pembroke

Dual Diagnosis unit: at Arbour (maybe more)

Developmentally Disabled unit: at Arbour-Fuller

ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) offered at Arbour Hospital

• Plus several “acute residential programs” at various locations


AHS’ flagship hospital, located in Boston, perhaps the most infamous in the State for rights and health violations. Although these are anonymously-submitted accounts, it is clear that they are credible (they are consistent with everything myself and other advocates have heard) and represent a pattern of abuse.

WARNING – content is disturbing:

• link:


WARNING – some content is disturbing:

• links to Pembroke Hospital and Westwood Lodge:


Boston Globe articles about legal problems at Pembroke Hospital, 2007-08

These articles describe serious rights violations at one of AHS’ largest hospitals. They are only available in full to paid subscribers, but I can provide them on request.

I am paraphrasing these.

“Psychiatric unit under state probe,” March 8, 2007

Reports of neglect or abuse were filed with DSS [Department of Social Services]…for three separate incidents that are alleged to have happened in the girls’ adolescent unit …Also still underway is a broader Department of Mental Health investigation of the hospital’s overall quality…Several complaints were filed with the health department …last year, causing the agency to launch an examination of the hospital’s quality of care…The category includes alleged neglect or abuse of patients.

At The Freedom Center, a Massachusetts advocacy group for psychiatric hospital patients, co- founder Will Hall said that restraints and medications in adolescent units of facilities like Pembroke Hospital have become widespread and routine. Said Hall, “Most of these kids shouldn’t even be in locked facilities, and we’re not sure if these agencies can address these problems.”

“State faults hospital staff: Inappropriate behavior cited,” July 26, 2007

Pembroke Hospital employees yelled and swore at patients, engaged in inappropriate horseplay, and failed to report a patient’s stolen credit card on which $650 had been charged, all in possible violation of state regulations or hospital policy, according to an investigation by the state Department of Mental Health.

The 142-page report by department investigator Michael V. Bogosian was completed on May 30. It examined two whistle-blowers’ allegations that patients at the private psychiatric facility, which draws from across the region, were being mistreated.

The investigation… concluded the following:

One female staffer had sex with a male patient and a male former patient, and used cocaine and heroin while on duty. Numerous other staffers knew about the drug use but failed to notify the state, as is required. The woman is no longer employed at the facility.

  • The system for filing complaints against workers by patients was dysfunctional. Some complaints apparently never were filed and paperwork was disorganized. Hospital officials failed to follow up on complaints.
  • Staffing was inadequate on many occasions and “short staffing can contribute to a dangerous environment,” the investigator wrote. For example, in February a nurse was sexually assaulted by a male patient and another patient needed to come to the nurse’s rescue.

In a written statement, Arbour spokeswoman Judith A. Merel said the hospital had made strides to address the problems raised by the state, such as hiring a new chief executive, Elaine Glaser.

The investigation began last fall when the department received a letter from a hospital employee, stating the hospital housed a “prevailing atmosphere of disrespect and disregard for appropriate psychiatric care” and a “culture of hostility and disrespect . . . perpetuated by the approach that many staff, both [mental health associates] and RN’s, seem to take toward patients that involves yelling and swearing.”

The investigation completed in May found that mental health workers and nurses yelled and sometimes swore at patients. Staff would engage in inappropriate behavior such as slapping buttocks, and backs of heads, or flicking ears, the investigation found.

One patient filed a complaint saying a credit card had been stolen and $650 had been charged…the investigator criticized the hospital for not reporting the alleged felony to the state and for failing to investigate properly.

The whistle-blower had asked state officials to keep his identity confidential, writing he “was very concerned, not only for [his] continued employment but for [his] personal safety as well.”

“State investigated hospital last year,” May 7, 2008 [After a patient was charged with raping another]

Pembroke Hospital, a private psychiatric facility that was the subject of a state investigation a year ago for alleged patient mistreatment and a variety of staff infractions, was the scene last week of an alleged nighttime rape of one patient by another. According to the hospital, it is the first such case in the facility’s history.

Judy Merel of Arbour Health System said the rooms for men and women are not in separate wings of the hospital, but “all policies and procedures were followed by staff, including scheduled checks of the patients in their rooms” on the night of the alleged attack.

Inadequate staffing was one of the concerns cited in a report released by the state Department of Mental Health last summer. The state investigator noted in the report that “short staffing can contribute to a dangerous environment.”

Based on the Department of Mental Health’s conclusion last year that staffing levels were inadequate, hospital administrators agreed to cap the facility’s admissions at 81. The hospital has 115 beds.

Merel said the hospital, with the approval of the Department of Mental Health, has been slowly increasing the admissions cap, to its current level of 100. Merel did not comment on staffing levels on the night of the alleged rape.


Thank you, Jonathan Dosick! • Source: