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Friday 4 October 2013
Guest Blog: Second Opinion - Sheppard Pratt
If you are a regular reader of Charlotte’s blog, you have probably read my daughter’s account of her stay at Sheppard Pratt (posted Sunday 9/29). Everything she said regarding her treatment is true. If you didn’t gain the required weight each day, you were punishe. Punishment included taking away visitation from family and friends and contact with the outside world was limited to a phone call. You were constantly watched even when showering and using the toilet and you were not allowed to flush. That is supposedly to prevent Bulimics from purging and getting away with it. It doesn’t take into consideration that refeeding can speed up an Anorexic’s metabolism, which hinders daily weight gain.
Why such harsh treatment, particularly for a young girl? Sheppard Pratt’s answer for treatment is to throw all patients together regardless of age, sex and diagnosis and have the rules for one demographic apply to all. It is a cookie cutter approach that does not address each patient’s needs and is punitive if not Draconian. It is essentially a medical prison population. We later learned from other patients and their families that the relapse rate was high and that a revolving door existed for many. I’m convinced it is because of Sheppard Pratt’s “sink or swim” and “my way or the highway” mode of practice. Interestingly enough, this works out in SP’s favor because the money continues to pour in from returning patients. It is the same mentality behind manufacturing products we purchase with a limited shelf life. Limited shelf life means repeat buyers.
Our intention was for her to be treated as an outpatient only but the Admissions Director literally railroaded us into an inpatient stay behind locked doors. She told us that only 1 bed was left and that we had to make a decision now to admit her or risk losing a spot. A few days after she was admitted, we soon discovered that many empty beds were available. My wife and I are convinced that SP pushed to admit our daughter because she had the best health coverage (PPO plan in US) available and that the bean counters were salivating at such a quality admission. I don’t remember the exact number but the insurance paid out a five figure sum for her stay. It was a lot of money. Sheppard Pratt is a business and is all about filling beds and making money and generating repeat business.
To make matters worse, admitting your minor child to SP constituted loss of legal rights as parents. Once we signed the paperwork, SP seized control of our daughter and were not going to relinquish it until she had stayed long enough to their satisfaction. Let our lesson be a warning to all: DO NOT SIGN OR COMMITT TO ANYTHING WITHOUT GETTING A SECOND OPINION. Institutions like SP prey upon parents’ lack of knowledge regarding the law and their rights.
In Sheppard Pratt’s defense, they did get our daughter back to a healthy weight. However, the harsh manner in which they accomplished this task left our child more traumatized than before she began treatment. Since leaving Sheppard Pratt, she suffers from serious anxiety and has trust issues, especially with mental health professionals. Despite our promise to NEVER put her into a place like SP again, she is still angry and resentful and forgiveness comes slow. Sadly, because of SP I don’t know if we will ever completely regain our daughter’s trust and for a parent, that is heartbreaking.
If we knew then what we know now about ED treatment options, we would have NEVER considered Sheppard Pratt. If you have a child that needs help, Sheppard Pratt should be your last option. So many better options like FBT exist that address the ED without treating the patient like a guilty prisoner. If you or anyone you know is considering Sheppard Pratt for ED care, my recommendation is to run away as fast as you can.