"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

- United States Declaration of Independence

Saturday, January 7, 2012

NEW article about abuses at Santorum-linked company

In yesterday's Huffington Post, a NEW article about abuses at Universal Health Services (UHS), (US' largest chain of behavioral health hospitals, schools, residential programs, etc. GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum sat on UHS' Board of Directors for several years, but doesn't seem to have noticed the constant investigations and allegations...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Santorum sat on Board of Directors of highly-abusive hospital chain.

Still working on a supplemental, fact-filled (and damning) collection of information supplementing my recent radio talk show. Stay Tuned!!!

In the meantime, in light of the Iowa results, new attention being paid to Rick Santorum's longtime membership on the Board of Directors of Universal Health Systems (UHS), the nation's largest operator of inpatient psych facilities, youth residential homes, and juvenile detention facilities - over 200 facilities in total. UHS has a very, very long and extraordinary record of violations of patients' rights at psych facilities - including their facilties here in Massachusetts, and all across the country. Currently, there are several US Dept. of Justice investigations into UHS for rights abuses. UHS employees have given lavishly to Santorum's campaign.

Recently reposted on the Huffington Post:

Rick Santorum And Universal Health Services: Presidential Hopeful Serves On Board of Hospital Chain Being Sued By DOJ

Inside Rick Santorum-Linked Universal Health Services Facility: Herpes, Porn and Drug Dealing        

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coming Soon...

Greetings friends and supporters of this cause...

I am proud to announce that after a (too long) hiatus, this blog is back...with a vengeance!

After a successful bill hearing, we are still waiting for our rights legislation to be reported OUT of Committee in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Things move glacially slow). I'm afraid the advance word is that the bill will be compromised in some way, but I remain optimistic.

Anyway, it is clear to me that without grass-roots activism and a more confrontative (but ALWAYS nonviolent) approach is necessary. The hospital industry is stronger than ever, and using its clout to deny a whole population their basic dignity and humanity. It may be very difficult to oppose them, but I and many others know that we must try...

Anyway, I will soon be adding some detailed information that correlates to the recent "Bipolar Nation" radio program I was honored to be a guest on a few weeks ago. Here's a link to that program:
(The show is archived and can be heard for FREE, as well as downloaded as an MP3).

Monday, May 2, 2011

State Watch:

The Pines in Virginia, a youth behavioral health program, is infamous for systemic rights violations. The following is a recent account of problems at the Pines, which is owned by the hospital conglomerate Universal Health Services, Inc., which runs over 200 facilities across the country, and has a truly dismal reputation nationwide.

Va suspends admissions at youth home
DENA POTTER, Associated Press

Monday, April 25, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The state has suspended admissions and downgraded the license of a Norfolk-based owner of treatment centers for troubled youth after a series of violations that included the mishandling of a sexual abuse complaint, authorities announced Monday.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services on Monday issued a provisional license for the three homes operated by The Pines Residential Treatment Center, agency spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said. The department gave the company six months to address staffing, reporting and other concerns.

A message left with The Pines' administrative office was not immediately returned.

The downgrade is a step toward removing a company's license. While it doesn't preclude the company from receiving state Medicaid funding, "a provisional license is a red flag" for private payers or other states that may house children there, McGuire said.

North Carolina officials said last week they were considering pulling 113 residents from the centers after finding the owner did not report a boy's claims that he was inappropriately touched by two residents at one of the centers. An investigation by Virginia department officials determined the center had failed to properly document the incident or to notify the state or the child's parents.

According to the investigation report, the boy claims he was inappropriately touched by two different residents and flashed by a roommate at the Norfolk center. The boy was admitted to the center on Nov. 2. His parents removed him from the home on Jan. 31, days after they were notified.

Renee McCoy, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday the agency was evaluating a number of options, including finding alternative placement for the children. It has suspended sending new youth to the homes.

McGuire said that incident was not the cause for Monday's action, but "the result of ongoing performance issues that must be corrected to ensure safety and effective treatment for the troubled children there."

"Over the past several years, (the department) has encountered significant problems at the Pines' facilities that have required tremendous monitoring time by our licensing and human rights staff," she said. "The licensing office has had continuous concerns surrounding treatment planning, training of staff, and supervision at the Pines."

Since 2006, there have been 152 investigations among the three centers ranging from minor complaints like staff not returning phone calls in a timely manner to more complicated matters such as the North Carolina sexual assault allegation, McGuire said.

The state is freezing admissions to the company's three Hampton Roads-area facilities "until there is evidence of improvement surrounding" the outlined concerns. Those include:

—Making sure there are adequate programs and staffing, especially for juveniles who come to the centers from the courts.

—Hiring qualified staff and getting them required training.

—Reducing staff overtime.

—Adjusting staff ratios to have one staff person for every four residents, or one for every three residents in units that require more intense supervision.

—Clarifying who is in charge of each unit and ensure nurses are available.

—Implementing a plan that ensures all therapists meet licensing qualifications and are supervised, and making sure there is one therapist for every 10 residents.

—Improving the treatment planning process, including better documenting progress.

—Reporting all incidents, including a monthly analysis of incidents.

McGuire said department officials met with the executive team at The Pines on Friday and advised them of what would happen. She said they were cooperative and agreed "without objection" to work on the issues.

"Because residential placement options for troubled children are limited, we want to see this plan succeed and result in an improved environment and better care for children at The Pines," McGuire said, adding that the department will continue "intensely monitoring" the centers.

According to its website, The Pines opened in 1986 to "provide focused intermediate and long-term care" to youth with mental, emotional and behavioral problems. It is licensed to provide care for 424 youth at its three centers in Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/APNewsBreak-Va-suspends-admissions-at-youth-home-1351477.php#ixzz1LE3ar72k

And, prison inmates are given fresh air under law...but not psych inpatients!

With the coming of Spring, having grown weary of the cold and staying inside, we reawaken to the benefits of nature. But hundreds of peers in Massachusetts are still forcibly kept indoors, in sterile hospital units and residences. They can only look outside and yearn for fresh air - at thirty hospitals, and at group homes.

In addition to restraint, lack of informed consent and widespread violation of basic rights, denial of the essential healing gift of fresh air is another collective insult we face.

My last mass email on the subject featured a Federal law that guarantees fresh air to livestock.

Now, here are some State regulations regarding prisons:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Department of Correction
Regulation 103 DOC 472

Section 472.02: Inmate Access to Recreational Programs and Leisure Activities

1. General - It is the department's policy to provide inmates within its custody equal access to recreational and leisure time opportunities and equipment, including, when weather permits, outdoor exercise.

3. Program Access for Inmates in a Department Disciplinary or Special Management Unit [i.e., Maximum/Supermax settings] - All inmates in such units shall receive a minimum of one hour per day, five days per week of exercise outside their cells.

So – organic livestock and prison inmates are protected the law. Peers are protected by neither…

PLEASE NOTE: I am not, in any way, suggesting that animals and prison inmates shouldn’t enjoy basic civil rights. Additionally, I regret any possible (but erroneous) implication that prison inmates are in any way ‘animals’ or ‘animalistic.’ Rather, I am illustrating the fact that while animals are seen as ‘less worthy’ of rights - and prison inmates are jailed for “corrective” purposes, they still have MORE rights than us. This begs the question: what does this say about how society sees us? It sends a message that we are seen as “less than,” and less deserving of rights than those society deems worthy of harsh punishment for their actions!

Also, the ‘purpose’ of psychiatric hospitalization is intended to be therapeutic, even despite the reality that it usually isn’t. Neither farms nor prisons are designed with that same intention. So why is a ‘therapeutic’ environment actually becoming more restrictive than ANY other? And what heals better, with no side effects and very little cost, than nature?

As we enjoy the blossoms and fragrances of Spring, let’s think of our peers who are needlessly kept from it, and continue working hard to put an end to this practice!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Organic Livestock regulations protect livestock, but humans?

Damning proof that peers’ human rights are not considered important at many psych. hospitals.

As you read this, keep in mind that, in Massachusetts alone, AT LEAST 800 people at over 30 hospitals, INCLUDING CHILDREN, are not allowed fresh air or outdoor access on inpatient psych. units in Massachusetts.

What have you seen in your state or country?

United States Code of Federal Regulations
Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements

§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions.

(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain year-round livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including:

(1) Year-round access for all animals to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, clean water for drinking, and direct sunlight, suitable to the species, its stage of life, the climate, and the environment…Yards, feeding pads, and feedlots shall be large enough to allow all ruminant livestock occupying the yard, feeding pad, or feedlot to feed simultaneously without crowding… Continuous total confinement of any animal indoors is prohibited.

(4) Shelter designed to allow for:

(i) Natural maintenance, comfort behaviors, and opportunity to exercise.

Jonathan Dosick

Thursday, March 31, 2011

From the Mass. State House

Words from last week's State House event, Boston
Greetings readers, I am returning to actively posting on this site. My apologies for a rather silent period - it follows a busy post-bill filing season and adjusting to a new job. But our effort here in Massachusetts is moving ahead! This is a speech I gave, addressing the current civil rights legislation, at a Lobby Day event at the MA State House in Boston a week ago. It's probably the most concise summary of what we are seeking and why. (As you may already know, brevity isn't my strongest suit, but things are getting better!) As always, YOUR voices and YOUR feedback are most welcome, as we move along toward a Spring and Summer of justice. (As soon as Spring starts - snowstorm here tomorrow!)


Today, we’re talking a lot about recovery.

Let’s consider a question: Where and how does recovery start? What kind of environment promotes it?

The seeds of recovery must be planted in soil that is rich with humanity and dignity. For many of us, recovery begins in institutional settings – hospital units and/or group homes.

However, the atmosphere in many of these settings sends messages that hinder recovery.

Right now, the only law in Massachusetts protecting our dignity and our humanity at such places is the Five Fundamental Rights law. But it’s not enforced. This law is broken every single day. And what message does that send? That we’re second-class citizens. We don’t deserve civil rights, even if the law says so, and it’s just too expensive to treat us with dignity.

EVERYONE at psychiatric hospitals and group homes must, under law, be allowed these five rights:

1.) The right to make and receive telephone calls, in private;
2.) The right to send and receive unopened and unread mail;
3.) The right to receive visitors of one’s own choosing, in private;
4.) The right to a humane physical and psychological environment, including privacy and dignity in sleeping, reading, bathing and toileting; and
5.) The right to contact an attorney, outpatient therapist, psychiatrist, doctor or clergy member.

But the reality is much different.

Phones are located in hallways or at nurses’ stations, and often shut off for hours. Mail is opened and censored, and visits are restricted to very short periods of time. Visits happen in common areas, people aren’t allowed to contact lawyers, and bathing and toileting activities are observed, sometimes by members of the opposite sex. How can these conditions promote healing of ANY kind?

House Bill 1430/Senate Bill 986 creates a way for rights complaints to be heard by a neutral third party. NOT hospital employees who may lose their jobs for speaking up, and NOT the chronically-understaffed DMH investigations unit. The bill FINALLY gives us due process – a cornerstone of democracy and fairness.

Likewise with the second part of the bill – the right to experience the essential comforts of fresh air and the outdoors. Mental health facilities are the ONLY places where people can legally be locked inside for long periods of time. We are being robbed of quite possibly the best short-term remedy that exists – the healing power of nature. This is a critical part of recovery for so many people, but at more than 30 hospitals in Massachusetts, it’s not even possible.

The administrators and lobbyists who fiercely oppose this bill believe that providing civil rights costs too much money. They don’t see that people treated with dignity will avoid repeated hospital admissions and treatment interventions – in other words, reducing costs and the incredible strain on the system.

Cost-effective. Ironic, isn’t it? Providing human rights can SAVE money. Why is it opposed so strongly?

Of course, ultimately, it’s not about the money, but something much, much more valuable: the promise of recovery. When the seeds of recovery are sown, hope and freedom flourishes. Please urge your legislators to support this bill, House 1430/Senate 986, an essential part of our ongoing civil rights movement.