Rick Santorum-Linked Hospital Chain Saw Suicide Attempts, Abuse, And Loss Of Parents’ Rights

Posted on February 25, 2012

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/rick-santorum-uhs-hospitals-patient-rights_n_1276403.html

In this excellent, in-depth article, Jason Cherkis examines the health care Rick Santorum’s daughter, Bella, received versus what the kids in UHS facilities receive. Santorum is quoted, “Put simply, a patient should be the decision-maker in their care — not a government or bureaucrat.” What Santorum doesn’t talk about is the how parents’ and kids’ rights were trampled upon by UHS facilities while he served on their board of directors from 2007 until the first half of 2011.

The article summarizes UHS’ legal troubles with the DOJ and state agencies:

The Department of Justice is close to settling with UHS over allegations that it committed medicaid fraud in one of its RTCs. The DOJ settled a case with the company in 2009 for $27.5 million over allegations that it bribed doctors to get them to refer patients to hospitals in Texas. Various state authorities have penalized UHS facilities with serious sanctions, suspending their licenses and barring them from receiving Medicaid reimbursements. In several incidents, staff and patients have been implicated in criminal activity ranging from rape to homicide.

Cherkis interviews two parents whose children were at Timberlawn and San Marcos Treatment Center, two UHS residential treatment centers in Texas:

They recall RTC staff limiting communication with their children, flouting parental consent, and brushing off their attempts to monitor their loved ones’ care. They all say that their troubles started soon after their children were admitted.

Their accounts of what happened to their children are truly horrific, it’s hard to believe any facility would treat children with such disregard and abuse.

Cherkis goes on to examine alternatives to residential treatment like the Wraparound Milwaukee initiative, which emphasizes keeping at-risk kids out of RTCs by giving families leadership roles and support from coordinated government agencies, a pool of private providers, and emergency services for moments of crisis.

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