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October 21, 2012

Sequoyah Employees Voice their Concerns and CYFD Investigates

Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center employees drafted and signed a memo that was given to director Anita Westbrook.  The memo outlined concerns that had been previously voiced by employees to Westbrook.  The memo was signed by nearly 60 employees.  The employees cite lower quality care; violations of policy, procedure, and established practice; poor working conditions and overall staff dissatisfaction; and informed Westbrook that they seek whistleblower protection that afforded to employees under state law. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) licenses and certifies Sequoyah as a residential treatment center. At the end of August, CYFD's Licensing and Certification Authority (LCA) started an investigation at Sequoyah and findings so far are not good.  It is so bad that LCA assigned someone to oversee care for residents.

Here is the employees' memo given to director Anita Westbrook:

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Here is the CYFD LCA document







Many Sequoyah employees have stated these issues began with DOH's acceptance of an extremely lucrative offer to a request for proposal (RFP) to Dr. Babak Mirin and New Mexico Psychiatric Services Inc. (NMPS).  Mirin and NMPS are based out of Roswell, NM.  Yes, Roswell, NM.   The same Roswell that the governor's chief of staff Keith Gardner and acting  department of health secretary Bradley McGrath both hail from.  The most interesting part of the RFP is that the accepted offer was made by New Mexico Psychiatric Services Inc. (NMPS), Dr. Babak Mirin's company. Dr. Babak and Garden Medical Management Inc. collect $250 an hour or $2000 per day.  The most interesting thing about the contracts is that the previous year's providers made between $149 and $165 per hour.

 Another odd point is that NMPS and Healing Garden are not the same company yet the RFP is awarded to NMPS but the contract goes to Healing Garden who did not submit an RFP.   What gives?  We will bring you more info on that later so stay tuned. 

RFP for psychiatric services:



Last contract awarded to Dr. Babak Mirin and Healing Garden Medical:



The most interesting part about Dr. Babak Mirin, who specializes in geriatrics and Healing Garden is that no one on staff has a specialty in child psychiatry.  Sequoyah always had doctors who had a specialty in child psychiatry. In fact, Seqouyah has on staff one the best child psychiatrists in the state in Dr. Kenneth Crumley, the medical director, who has been on paid administrative leave.  Dr. Crumley is paid $153,595 a year.  Dr. Mirin is acting medical director in his absence.  Other providers currently at Sequoyah are Dr. Parvaneh Bakhtiar, an Adult Psychiatrist, and Jayanna Warwick, a Nurse Practitioner.  Not even a doctor.  So, three unqualified people equals one child psychiatrist at a cost.

Healing Garden/NMPS did have a child psychiatrist on staff who they touted as the primary provider during the RFC process but the doctor moved out of state as planned. 


In future posts we will be discussing the issues at Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center.  There are lots of issues to tackle.  This will be a multi-part series.

58 comments:

  1. There are many issues at SATC....hope there is lots more info coming! Bravo to the employees who had the integrity to stand up and advocate! And good for this site for supporting their efforts.

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  2. Employees were also questioned by HR from Santa Fe and asked if they were coerced to sign the petition, in essence threatened that they would lose their jobs if they didn't take their name off. Dr. Mirin has also threatened employees that they would lose their job if they disagreed with him. At this time we still do not have written policies about the sweeping changes at Sequoyah and Mirin hasn't written any psychiatric notes (that are accessible to staff)since July when he got there, violating professional ethics.

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  3. Not keeping required psychiatric records also violates the contract and licensing regulations.
    But Dr. Mirin has publicly stated that he doesn't care about licensing or the union.

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  4. Strong, brave and caring people CAN and DO make a difference. Hats off to those who signed and filed this petition!

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    Replies
    1. I have heard from several people that the document was turned in before they could sign it. Not just the people who signed the memo are heroes. The entire staff at Sequoyah are dedicated, hard-working and selfless. The Sequoyah staff is dedicated to the mission and exemplify what is good about DOH.

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    2. DOH Nation Proud10/23/12, 9:12 AM

      SATC employees are to be commended for blowing the whistle. The DOH has decided to retaliate against Lea Zukowski. Brad McGrath has her out on Admin leave while they frame her. Hang in there Lea you and others did the ethical thing and you will be vindicated in the end.

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    3. If only anita westbrook cared about satc as much as lea zukowski does.

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    4. If only anita westbrook cared about satc as much as lea zucowski did.

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    5. Lea really did care about her employee's and did the right thing. It is a shame about what they did to her especially since it was all in the best interest of the facility, the residents that are worked with, and the staff who give the direct care.

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  5. I would like to know how Mirin can have multiple DOH contracts- how can he possibly be in so many places (across the state) at the same time?

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  6. The petition is dated August 28- almost 2 months ago. Isn't this old news? Have the concerns been addressed?

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    Replies
    1. No response to letter of concern to date.

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  7. WAIT A MINUTE!! Am I correct in reading that New Mexico Psychiatric Services rated second from last and is the second most expensive contractor approved? And they have how many contracts? The contract you posted is not for SATC. How much is the state paying for SATC? How many contracts does this doctor have? And what about this Barton and Associates? Did they get any of the work? What a distaster that would be.

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  8. The same basic things are happening at NMRC. Brad and Dr. Adams are trying to frame Dr. Gilbreth so they can fire her. Then all that would be left would be Dr. Mirin's staff to run the Medical Rehab Unit as well as the Chemical Dep Unit. Medicare regulations are very specific about having a rehab trained physician on the medical rehab unit and the last I looked Mirin's group does not qualify to run that unit.

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  9. Today is "Staff Appreciation Day" at Sequoyah.
    I would feel more appreciated if Anita Westbrook had responded to our formal letter of concern. It has been two months now.

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    Replies
    1. It would be nice if Anita actually came around and thanked us for our hard work personally. Hell, even an email would show some concern from her. Yet all we get is a poorly planned and executed day where evening staff had a whole 30mins to eat and enjoy the "day"

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  10. Mirin knows very little about satc, staff, and the population served. Yet we must endure his lengthy pontifications about issues we have expertise on. I would put any milieu staff against him on any day in how to effectively deal with an aggressive resident.

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    Replies
    1. Mirin honestly believes that all of the staff are idiots and don't have to work there. Yet this is coming from someone who has no experience in working with children before this job...

      Him and Anita both have shown that they really do not understand anything about what happens on the lodges and really don't show a concern to.

      Things would run a lot smoother if the Administration would take a few minutes out of their obviously busy schedule to come down and talk to the milieu staff once and awhile and actually listen to what they have to say.

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    2. Heck why check out the real operations of the facility your running, when you're busy re-decorating, hiring more administrative staff than milieu staff and bitching about what staff wear?

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    3. Did she really have a sink raised two inches so she would not have to bend down to wash her hands?

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    4. .....yes she did. Only in the women's bathrooms.

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  11. No one likes change and not everyone can be pleased. State Government all together has a bad rep from people in the past that didn’t work and have become lazy. If there is so much unhappiness find some place that makes you happy, sure follow up with the safety of the children but putting yourself in a situation to make a point people will leave before this gets settled. There are policies and procedures that need to be followed (you all know this working for the State Government there is never a direct response within a month or even two!)That’s why I no longer work for State Government! There are never excuses for the danger of any child remember what you go to work for and that is the children don’t stoop to anyone’s level on jeopardizing your career. If you go to work and do a great job there are no excuses. Above there is a comment about SATC having a "staff appreciation day" I know how these things are handled usually the unhappy folks always have something to say about how the day was ran and how unhappy you were, you got a day and you choose to participate or to be excluded that’s your call. Do what’s best for yourself and for the kids that’s what your there for! Hats off to the direct care staff its take a lot to do what you all do!

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    Replies
    1. If only it were that easy. Not all of us can just go get a new job! Jobs are hard to find. And some of us really like working here and think we can help these kids. We go to work and do the right things but its hard when the bosses dont get it. It is more than not likeing change, it is not likeing change that makes our job harder and makes it not safe for us and the kids. Also, change came very fast when the docters came in, so it government can and does do things quick when it wants to!

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    2. Who ever wrote this missed the whole point! SATC employees should be commended for speaking up for clients and putting patient care above self-preservation, not scolded for the ignorant and simplistic assumption that they are unhappy with change! So glad you are not in state government any longer, because it is that attitude that allows programs all throughout DOH and the state to be compromised. If more people worried less about doing what is best for themselves and more about following the mission of the department, what has happened at SATC would never have happened. Forge ahead, SATC, keep doing what it right, and ignore people who just don't get it!

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    3. I agree 100% Doing the right thing has nothing to do with change. We deal with change every 4 to 8 years and in most cases programs continue with their intended purpose. There is good change and bad change but there is right and wrong. Right and wrong never changes. There shouldn't be any grey areas when it comes to right and wrong. You should be able to tell the difference between right and wrong in the blink of an eye. The staff at Sequoyah saw wrong and took action. It isn't easy to do the right thing always but action shows true character.

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    4. Well excuse us for caring! My God, you think the children would be better served by those of us that care, if we just found other employment and abandoned them? Please place your head back in the sand or up your a$$.

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  12. Jerry Minor, Retired10/26/12, 8:53 PM

    I am reminded of a Staff Appreciation Day a couple of years ago that involved staff and residents engaged in fun activities. This was a much healthier Sequoyah where everyone from top to bottom worked together for the benefit of a very vulnerable client population.

    Even disagreements were healthy in those days. Heaven knows that I had my fair share with Dr. Gardner, and he with me, but each of us understood that the other was only advocating on behalf of the clients. It is only in the context of give and take that progress is made, unlike the current environment of fear and intimidation.

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  13. SATC is a very sad place these days, Jerry.
    Our director knows very little about her staff, is shockingly ignorant of the program, disrespectful to the hard-working employees, and Dr. Mirin is simply a very sick and mean man who is there ONLY because of the exorbitant amount of money he is being paid.
    Thank you for your comments and support.

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    Replies
    1. Our mission has been degraded because these two are busy making Sequoyah a place where they get their ego's stroked. Mirin wants money and Westbrook wants Mirin and so the ugly cycle goes. Nothing to do with providing good health care.

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  14. To be clear. Dr. Mirin is a cheap snake oil salesman. His product is based purely on his ego and is full with fabrications, convenient miscommunications and veiled threats. He obviously doesn't know much about child psychiatry and has gotten fired; educated, dedicated female employees because they stood up for what's right and disagreed with him. As the new "Medical Director" he has been busy making a mess of Sequoyah to satisfy his fakery. He maintains his position by continuing to publicly insult employees that work much harder than he does. Change is fine when it's based on best practices and knowledge with sound policies that back it up. Employees aren't a bunch of whiners but instead a group of informed individuals, with years of experience that can see that the emperor has no clothes.

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  15. The 52 SATC employees that signed the letter are heroes. Given that NMDOH management is widely known for retaliating against its employees they were brave to sign the letter. CYFD appears to validate all their concerns in its findings. Perhaps the Governor could hold a press conference and give them an award for exposing malfeasance at great personal risk.

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  16. If Keith Gardner or Brad McGrath want to reward their Roswell buddy Dr. Mirin with these many exorbitantly-priced contracts - fine. But SATC employees want him gone! We want someone who is not a crooked businessman, who actually does his assessments (as required by his contract and licensing), who actually sees kids, who doesn't refer to staff in negative terms, and who is actually trained as a child psychiatrist.

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  17. Curious about what this "Healing Garden" place of Mirin's is. Doesn't seem to be a real company or agency from what I can twll. Did he start it just to get awarded the contract? Why didn't his actual psychiatric company get the contract? Something seem fishy to me!

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    Replies
    1. Healing Garden is a new corporation according to the NMPRC. Filed May 2012. Why start a new company instead of doing business with NMPS as it was bidded with? Better question is what is Mirin and NMPS hiding?

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  18. I'll have a post up in the next day or so.

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  19. Does the governor know about this? She is supposed to be all about kids?

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  20. I don't work for the state. Now retired, I held senior management positions for much of my career. I started reading this website because my daughter, who does work for DOH, would seek advice from me on how to deal with some conflicts at work. After reading this well-crafted and passionate letter of concern from employees, I am at a loss to understand how any responsible director could not have acknowledged and responded to it. In fact, were I the recipient, I would have thanked them all for bringing the issues to my attention and would have assured them that each and every concern was going to be addressed. Wonder what sort of training the state does for its management. I am also very concerned about the contract approval for this psychiatrist.
    I voted for Martinez, but I will have to see some changes, which I will depend on this website as evidence of, before I vote to re-elect the governor.

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    1. Similar story for me- Retired having held senior management positions. I started reading this website after seeing grown women doctors cry because of the atrocious actions by Torres (who no doubt was doing the bidding of Martinez). The Martinez Administration is beyond reprehensible at this point.

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  21. I am a former professional staff at SATC. I am shocked reading the licensing directed actions. SATC NEVER received such citations under the former director Henry Gardner. Goodness what has happened at that place?

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  22. I just heard they are promoting staff who didnt sign the memo. Can they do that? Without even doing interviews?

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    Replies
    1. The DOH personnel transactions are as suspect as the contracts. Please investigate all promotions and reclasses. The hanky panky continues.

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  23. Mirin just violated our corrective action plan with licensing this past weekend when he had staff restrain a resident to give him an injection. Some staff refused to participate since our seclusion and restraint policy precludes us from restraining a kid when they are not presenting a danger. The resident had just previously agreed to take an oral medication.

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    1. Mirin has remarked several times that he does not care about licensing. So here is a contract psychiatrist - making a fortune off the state- who is arrogant enough to dismiss state licensing requirements.
      Santa Fe -WHERE ARE YOU??????

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    2. We are now allowing for staff to restrain a kid for an injection according to a new interpretation of the regs which is Mirins preferred route of medicating agitated residents

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  24. Isn't that abuse?

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  25. I am shocked that Brad McGrath has not yet removed Dr. Mirin and Anita Westbrook. Hope the governor replaces Brad McGrath soon. How irresponsible.

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    1. I agree with this that we need to get rid of Brad DOH deserves a fresh start don't you agree.

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    2. Having just recently left DOH, I couldn't agree with you more. Brad is surrounding himself with yes men and women who have no morals and have no problem doing the wrong things as long as it gets them more power or money. While Mike Mulligan, and Bernice Gonzales have his ear, DOH is just like the movie Groundhog Day, where everyday is the same miserable one at work where the honest hard working employees toil in their labor and the dishonest, do-nothing ones who are basically Bernice's self appointed court jesters, who's main focus is to feed her gossip and food, and to make her laugh thrive and are compensated with money and promotions. Mike on the other hand is a cat with nine lives who manages to land on his feet despite the fact that he seems to favor helping those that are not loyal to him or those of the opposite sex that can do things for him. Just months ago, Torres had him in the time out corner like a little kid. It was amazing how nice he could be when humbled. He should decide who he really is before he is known as Chameleon Boy. Alas, these two are compensated too well for any other agency to hire them. All that the mistreated employees can hope for is that their illegal doings are brought to the surface so they can see what it is like to be dismissed.

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  26. Lea Zukowski, Milieu Director of SATC, was officially terminated today for her role in writing the letter of concern to Anita Westbrook. Lea cared enough to voice her concerns to Anita- only to fall on deaf ears. Lea was concerned enough about advocating for SATC clients and staff to continue her attempt to alert Anita of serious problems that she drafted the letter. Lea knew that her job was at risk, yet felt there were no avenues left to communicate to our director. Too bad the only response to the letter of concern was to terminate a 14 year employee who was respected by all those she worked with. Great loss to SATC and DOH.

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    1. This is what DOH does best instead of fixing the problem they just put them on admin leave and then before you know it's over just like that they have no rumors whats so ever.

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    2. Anita Westbrook conveniently scapegoated Lea Zukowski for the letter of concern, then fired her. May it be Ms. Westbrook's downfall that she failed to appreciate that her employees' concerns
      remain, their convictions are strong, and they will not stop until integrity has been restored to SATC.
      Ms. Westbrook, WE ARE STILL WAITING FOR YOUR RESPONSE TO OUR LETTER OF CONCERN!

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  27. Getting rid of Lea Zukowski wasn't fixing any problem. Nor was the firing of a psychologist who Dr. Mirin also didn't like (he has issues with women). The true fix here is the immediate departure of Mirin (who is ruining SATC's good reputation) then Ms. Westbrook who showed true incompetence by allowing all these things to happen.

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  28. Would the U.S. Justice Dept. be able to do anything about all the corruption in our state government?

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  29. I can't believe the state is doing business with this guy!

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  30. I can't believe the State of New Mexcio is being run like the KGB. I thought this was America? The corruption is so blatant, disregards anyone who gets in their way. All of these guys need to go to jail.

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  31. I am outraged that such obviously illegal activities are happening in a state agency that is supported by taxpayers. I personally will not rest until all of this has been exposed and rectified.

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  32. Dr. Mirin is a terrible human being. I can't believe the State is doing business with this crook! Brad McGrath - you have a lot of explaining to do - better work on your latest spin this weekend.

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