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January 18, 2013

Another Day, Another Whistleblower Lawsuit for the New Mexico Department of Health, Plus More Press


The Albuquerque Journal ran another front page story involving the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center.  Any press is good press, right?  This one involved a former manager.  Whistleblower lawsuits are plentiful at DOH and appear that they will be costly to the state's taxpayers.   Sadly, all the lawsuits appear to be credible and with merit. Zukowski's case seems to be no exception because her claims have been validated by other agencies including CYFD as we have highlighted here on the website in the past.

Here is the filed complaint:

 

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/01/14/news/suit-faults-psych-services-provider.html

Suit Faults Psych Services Provider

On the night of Aug. 20, at the state’s residential treatment center for violent and mentally ill young men, a resident began punching himself forcefully in the face. But, according to a whistle-blower protection lawsuit, the psychiatrist in charge refused to allow staff to intervene.

The incident so troubled staff members at Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center, the lawsuit contends they called a supervisor because they “felt negligent by allowing the resident to hurt himself.”
None of the staff was willing to report the incident to the state’s child abuse hotline, according to the lawsuit filed last week by former center manager, Lea Zukowski.

But Zukowski did.


And now she is alleging she was fired by the Department of Health for reporting that and other instances of alleged “public malfeasance” involving the health and safety of the staff and residents of Sequoyah, which is located in Albuquerque.

The lawsuit, filed against DOH, contends she also reported violations of state licensing standards at the center, which resulted in a “sanction” and directives from the state’s Children, Youth and Families 

Department in an effort to protect Sequoyah residents.

A DOH spokesman last week said his agency cannot comment on pending litigation.

Zukowski was responsible for supervising the majority of direct care staff of the inpatient treatment program for seriously mentally ill and violent adolescent males up to age 21.

The residents are there for treatment rather than incarceration and must be amenable to treatment, according to a center brochure.

Prior to the events leading up to her dismissal, Zukowski says her 14-year work record was free of discipline and her performance evaluations showed she met or exceeded expectations.

But she became concerned about the care of patients after the state hired Roswell-based New Mexico Psychiatric Services to handle as needed care of patients at Sequoyah. A health department spokesman said two of the company’s staff are working at the center under a $166,920 contract that runs through June.

Within weeks of the private contractor arriving at the treatment center, the medical director who was responsible for psychiatric care of the majority of residents was placed on paid leave.

Dr. Kenneth Crumley has not returned to work, but in his absence the psychiatrists from NMPS “took over all the psychiatric care” and made dramatic changes in residents’ medications, the lawsuit alleges.
The residents’ legal guardians or therapists weren’t consulted beforehand, which was a violation of state law, Zukowski’s lawsuit claims.

There were also orders to physically restrain a resident so he could be given an injection of medication, and later that resident was allegedly put in mechanical restraints.

Since it appeared there was no justification for using such restraints, because the resident wasn’t harming himself or others, Zukowski tried to clarify the incident by speaking with the doctor, who advised her not to challenge him ever again, her lawsuit states. She believed the use of restraints and injected medication were “in direct violation” of the center’s rules and policies.

Zukowski also took issue with the lack of what she contended was proper training for the new psychiatric staff and questioned whether there had been improper discharges of residents.

Her complaints to the director of the center, Anita Westbrook, resulted in Westbrook’s instruction that staff “follow the NMPS’s doctors’ orders without complaint,” the lawsuit states.
One doctor allegedly told her that “Santa Fe” would back him up and said she would be in trouble with “Santa Fe” for questioning him. He wasn’t identified in the lawsuit.

By Aug. 20, Zukowski had been issued a letter of reprimand, and four days later began to discuss with staff the idea of “writing a petition” to Westbrook “regarding the staff’s concerns,” her lawsuit stated. More than 50 signatures appear on the petition.

Zukowski was placed on leave Aug. 30 and was fired effective Nov. 7. Her dismissal notice stated that she was “fired for her role in creating and supporting a ‘memo of concern’ and for insubordination, her lawsuit said.

Meanwhile, a CYFD licensing official filed a preliminary report in late August that listed deficiencies at Sequoyah in the areas of client discharges, restraints and seclusion, and medication errors. The six-page handwritten notice didn’t give specifics or name names but ordered corrective action.

Meanwhile, New Mexico Psychiatric Services is facing a Medicaid fraud inquiry by the state Attorney General’s Office for billings related to behavioral health services provided to clients of the state Human Services Department.

Dr. Babak Mirin, president of New Mexico Psychiatric Services, meanwhile, has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a representative for the family of a woman killed by her 21-year-old son in 2009.
The son, Christopher Paiz, had been receiving treatment from Mirin and New Mexico Psychiatric Services, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that Mirin and his company were negligent in discharging Paiz from the Sunrise Mental Health Center at the Eastern New Mexico Health Center in Roswell in June 2009.

Paiz had been committed for inpatient treatment, the lawsuit stated, and had made threats against his mother, Mary Jane Paiz, while there.

The lawsuit alleges that Mirin and another NMPS physician who treated him had a duty to warn Paiz’s mother that her son intended to “do her great bodily harm and that he was being released from Sunrise.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the two NMPS physicians “failed to advise” the New Mexico Behavioral 

Institute in Las Vegas about the threat after Paiz was transferred there before his release.
The institute released Paiz on June 27, 2009, “and the same day he went to her home and stabbed her in the neck with a knife,” the lawsuit states. Mary Jane Paiz was 43.

Mirin hasn’t filed an answer to the lawsuit’s allegations, according to court records.
His attorney didn’t respond to Journal questions last week about that lawsuit or Zukowski’s allegations.

The Paiz lawsuit also names New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas and Sunrise Mental Health Center as defendants.

In their response, lawyers for the two facilities contend that there was no breach of duties and that Paiz suffered from schizophrenia and violent outbursts and routinely threatened violence against his family, in particular, his mother.

Mirin is a psychiatrist who has had additional training in geriatric psychiatry, according to his firms’ website.
His attorney, David H. Johnson, told the Journal that Mirin’s residency studies at State University of New York at Brooklyn included adolescent psychiatry.

Having that specialty isn’t a requirement for providing services at Sequoyah, Johnson added.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

________________________________________________________



This editorial also ran on Wednesday.


Editorial: DOH Missed Red Flags On Service Contracts

Where were the red flags?
One would think government bureaucrats getting ready to award a lucrative contract to a mental health provider would have snapped to the idea that more vetting might be needed because the provider was under investigation by another state agency.

That would make sense, but this is New Mexico, after all.

Instead, last summer the Department of Health awarded contracts to Roswell-based New Mexico Psychiatric Services. And the DOH did so even though some DOH employees — no one wants to say who — supposedly knew the state Attorney General’s Office was investigating Medicaid fraud allegations for billings for Human Services Department clients. HSD payments to New Mexico Psychiatric Services have been suspended pending the inquiry’s outcome.

Under the DOH contracts, the company can bill up to $623,900 to provide on-call or temporary services to state-run health facilities, including the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center in Albuquerque, a 36-bed facility center for violent and mentally ill youths. A former supervisor there has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the Department of Health fired her for reporting alleged “public malfeasance” regarding the health and safety of staff and residents.

Despite the issues with the AG’s office, the DOH charged ahead with the contracts. It should have a strong explanation for doing so.

The department has yet to offer one.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

________________________________________________________


And finally a website mention in the Journal

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/01/16/news/gov-has-lost-much-of-original-cabinet-top-staff.html

Gov. Has Lost Much of Original Cabinet, Top Staff



Gov. Susana Martinez begins the second half of her four-year term with a Cabinet and top staff that look
much different than when she took office.

Martinez has lost about one out of four of her original Cabinet appointees, as well as about half of her initial hires in the Governor’s Office, including two deputy chiefs of staff.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell, who became the governor’s communications director last month after serving as a spokesman for the Children, Youth and Families Department, put a rosy spin on the turnover.

Knell said the average tenure for Cabinet secretaries at the state and federal levels is two to three years.

“Gov. Martinez is confident that her Cabinet is full of talented, hardworking employees who are fulfilling their mission of reforming New Mexico,” he said.

The Cabinet is made up of 23 department secretaries, with the governor appointing 22 of those. The 23rd, the agriculture secretary, is selected by the New Mexico State University regents.

The size of the Cabinet was expanded from 15 members to 23 under Martinez’s predecessor, Bill Richardson.

In his first two years in office, Richardson lost two of his original Cabinet appointees and two other Cabinet members whose agencies were elevated to Cabinet status shortly after he took office.

Martinez’s Cabinet appointees who have come and gone:

♦ Former U.S. Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt withdrew his nomination in February 2003 to head the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources.

Schmitt withdrew in a dispute with the Senate Rules Committee over a background investigation, saying he didn’t want to waive his legal rights should his personal information be misused.

The former astronaut also had come under public scrutiny for some of his views, including his belief that some policymakers are using global warming as a means to gain authoritarian control of society, that the right to work has been usurped by minimum wage laws and other government actions and that President Barack Obama wants to change the nation into “some mystical, socialist utopia.”

♦ Finance and Administration Secretary Rick May was shuffled off in September 2011 to serve as chief executive officer of the New Mexico Finance Authority.

As head of Finance and Administration, May was Martinez’s top-ranking official on state budget matters but was shut out of the governor’s inner circle.

When a scandal over a fake audit broke at the Finance Authority last year, May was gone for good. The authority board, controlled by the governor’s appointees, fired him.

♦ Lupe Martinez, the first woman to serve as secretary of the Department of Corrections, resigned in September 2011.

The resignation came a few days after the governor asked State Police to investigate an incident in which the secretary’s live-in fiancĂ©, also a Corrections employee, allegedly fired a weapon at rattlesnakes outside the couple’s home on the grounds of the state Penitentiary in Santa Fe.

Lupe Martinez, no relation to the governor, previously served as warden of state prisons in Grants and Hagerman.

♦ Catherine Torres, a pediatrician from Las Cruces, quit in October 2012 as head of the Department of Health.

Torres was wildly unpopular among many department employees and was the target of harsh attacks posted on a website with an address of www.nmdohcrisis.com. Advocates for the disabled also had been critical of her.

Torres said she wanted to spend more time with her family.

♦ Michael Duvall, head of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, resigned in January 2012, saying he was taking a job with the National Nuclear Security Administration.

As the state’s top emergency management official, Duvall had been in charge of the government’s response to crises, including a natural gas outage due to cold weather in 2011 and wildfires.

♦ Transportation Secretary Alvin Dominguez retired from state government at the end of last year.
Dominguez, who is in his early 50s, had risen through the ranks at DOT. A Las Cruces resident, he had been commuting to Santa Fe.

As for the governor’s top staff, at least 10 of Martinez’s original 21 hires in the Governor’s Office are no longer there.

The departed include three of the seven initial members of the governor’s executive leadership team, including deputy chiefs of staff Brian Moore and Ryan Cangiolosi and Matt Kennicott, director of policy and planning.

Moore, a former state representative and Clayton grocery store owner, was moved in July 2011 to Washington, D.C., to serve as the governor’s liaison to federal government.

Moore stayed a year in Washington before resigning from the administration, saying he missed home.
Cangiolosi left the governor’s staff in November to take a newly created job with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

Kennicott was transferred to the Human Services Department, where he serves as communications director.
Scott Darnell, formerly Martinez’s communications director, and Jessica Hernandez, who worked as her general counsel, were promoted to deputy chiefs of staff late last year.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at tcole@abqjournal.com or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to ABQjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal



Thoughts about anything posted here?  Post them below.



73 comments:

  1. Everything reported in the article happened exactly as described. Dr. Mirin's view of care ("get me a needle and some Haldol") of aggressive residents would have continued if Lea had not reported that and other atrocities. DOH - I can't wait for the depositions to begin!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That is BS, it is all bogus and needs to be addressed. People may be called to confirm it and she will be shown for the liar she is! Staff that she mentions should be called to defend themselves.

      Delete
    2. There are MANY people who witnessed and experienced the same things Lea did. MANY staff have given consistent reports when interviewed by LCA; JACHO; Disability Rights, and Optum. People will be called upon for depositions and will substantiate everything. Appearance versus reality aside, I have no doubt Lea will have a successful outcome to her lawsuit. The only staff that need to defend themselves are Mirin, Kathy, and Anita, and their behavior is indefensible.

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    3. How can anyone even suggest any of what is in the article or what Lea reported to be BS? wasn't it all looked into by LCA; JACHO; and Disability Rights? Did these investigations come out on finding all of Lea's claims to be false and a waste of time? No they did not.

      DOH administration, specifically SATC admin, has their head so far up their ass they would argue about anything. If you said the sky was blue they would tell you no it was green! Just to tell you something different because you had to listen. (SATC admin includes but is not limited to Anita, Kathy, Brenda, any new or old staff that has been promoted to to the ass kissing and lack of care and consideration for the Residents first and foremost!

      Delete
  2. Is this Dr. Mirin a legal immigrant?

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    Replies
    1. Green Card! Fleecing America with little to no concern for Patients or Staff! Deport him!

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  3. It is no wonder why the management's blog posts here represent such a disparate view. We have witnessed a strange intepretation of reality in many respects. For example: a JACHO investigation is described by Anita Westbrook as a "one-day survey"; a quarantine of residents and staff because of the half-assed job Anita did in ensuring all were vaccination against flu was termed a "medical separation" (no such medical or epidimeological concept); Anita cites "hospital standards when trying to justify questionable practices when we are an RTC; Dr. Mirin develops his own definition of "chemical restraint" which is then put into policy" so he does not violate licensing standards; an outspoken lodge manager is transferred to another facility to "the needs of DOH", etc. I could go on and on for there are endless examples. Thank goodness for the oversight agencies relied upon to ensure safety and that appropriate care is delivered. Thank goodness for employees (like Lea) who respected the standards and dared to challenge (only to have her concerns fall on deaf ears). MANY of us heard from our respective supervisors (from multiple departments) that Anita said 'Do whatever Dr. Mirin says". MANY of us heard responses from Anita that were to be interpreted as "Do it or you are gone." There is simply NO WAY that Anita, Dr. Mirin, Kathy; DOH-HR will be able to successfully spin this in their lame way. There were too many people paying attention and, despite Dr. Mirin's voiced opinion about the stupidity of staff, they are smarter than he thinks.

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    1. Complaining is bad for your health my friend!

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    2. Again, Dr. Mirin (and you are not my friend), do not give advice. Your controlling, ill-informed, arrogant, even paranoid at times, nature offers nothing and has contributed to the significant stress among employees of SATC.

      Delete
    3. You are minimizing that person's statements - serious violations of good practice; workplace ethics, not to mention illegal labor practices- as "complaining"? What is wrong with you?

      Delete
    4. Improperly (if not illegally) obtained contracts and a fraud investigation are bad for one's financial health, my friend.

      Delete
  4. I think it is interesting that since its creation several decades ago, SATC employees have NEVER had reason to write letters of concern; call licensing or other agencies, have never felt so strongly about wrongdoings that they were willing to speak up (knowing their jobs were at risk); have never filed whistleblower lawsuits, etc. Why? Because they were adaptable enough to change as needed; they were not treated in such deplorable ways as they are now, and their solid program was not being ruined. None of the "complaining" started before the arrival of Dr. Babak Mirin and the inept "leadership" (and I use that word loosely), of Anita Westbrook.

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    1. That is because everyone complaining was use to the old correction approach, too many restraints documented. We are now implementing real treatment to the center. Sorry for those that have a hard time accepting it. However, it will not be stopped I am sure of it. No matter what is said, the old days are gone and will never be back!

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    2. That is your story, management, and you are sticking to it! SATC hasn't used a corrections approach for years - Ha! No, the complaints were because of the "Mirin approach" - Haldol and a syringe - were being used. And how clever was your attempt to improperly discharge residents who were accumulating too many restraints for those magic new restraint numbers being publicized! Licensing is now supervising discharges. Good try!

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    3. Mirin will be gone, and I am sure of it!

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    4. Here is what happened: Mirin got a contract for limited, on-call services. He needed to make the case for a full-time gig there and was successful by portraying SATC as being in bad shape which he needed to fix. It wasn't before he got there! He wanted to land the full-time contract then move onto his other conquest, which he openly identified as being Turquoise Lodge. He told many people he was going there next (NMPS had not gotten the Turquoise Lodge contract, but he wasn't giving up!)

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    5. More BS! We had residents that were staying too damn long. Those residents were the ones that had many restraints way before the new administration. We all know the residents I am referring to. Also, I recall assisting in giving injections to residents before the new doctor arrived, explain that!

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    6. It was RARE that Dr. Crumley was even asked to give an injection, much less give one. With Mirin, he had the nurses start keeping needles and Haldol in their fanny packs to have ready anytime they were responding to an escalating resident. I personally heard him offer two residents the injection to calm down. Fortunately, our "old treatment" program had already taught them coping skills to calm down, and they refused the injection.
      So, if a resident stays too long and is racking up alot of restraints because of how mentally ill they are, we should just call an ambulance to come take them away (like one of Mirin's doctors did before he was busted for forging prescriptions for narcotics for himself)?

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    7. Does management REALLY believe that everything we have been going through - all of our efforts in responding to the ill-informed, ill-conceived procedural and policy changes (most of which have been reversed) grew merely out of any "resistance to change"? Really? Do you really believe that positive change would not have been positively received? Again, you have underestimated us.

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    8. Desperadoes is what people have become. People need to embrace the change that has arrived:)

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    9. Yes, we were desperate when we had to watch a resident hit himself in the face until he was completely bloodied. We did feel desperate when we were ordered to not intervene. We did feel deperate when we had to restrain a resident so Mirin could inject him with Haldol after the resident was already calm. Then we remembered that is why oversight agencies exist, and that is when they were called and stopped Mirin's "new treatment approach". No, we will not embrace Mirin's kind of change.

      Delete
    10. Bogus claims, I was there the whole time:)

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    11. So, you were there the whole time? You must have forgotten that there were at least 8-10 other people there for that horrific event as well and I doubt that any of them would say that the incident was "bogus". I also believe that the oversight agencies reviewed the footage from that incident as well and they did not think that the situation was "bogus". Oh and the client's parents did not think it was "bogus" either!

      Delete
  5. As long as Dr. Mirin is posting to his "friends" as he refers to them, I wonder if he would like to comment on how he got his lucrative contracts? It certainly isn't because he is a board-certified child psychiatrist! Or, perhaps he would like to address his need to establish - what - FIVE different corporations - the majority of which are in bad standing with the PRC? Or tell us why he continued billing Medicaid after he was suspended from billing?

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  6. DOH needs to add whistleblower lawsuit costs to the final cost for all of Dr. Mirin's contracts. Because as long as the state does business with him, there will be blatant disregard for proper and legal procedures (which his Medicaid fraud investigation evidences his disregard for); there will continue to be reporting of violations resulting in wrongful terminations, and there will continue to be whistleblower's lawsuits. Very expensive provider you are paying for, DOH.

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  7. Dr. Mirin told many staff that he has full support and protection from DOH. So I guess he can refer to Brad McGrath as his friend, but not us.

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  8. DOH Nation continue speaking up. The harassers, retaliators and bullies haven't quite got it yet that they are losing. Times are a changing and we will prevail for the patients, employees, and the taxpayers in the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, we are going nowhere until the corruption is gone.

      Delete
  9. This website is making a difference, and it is fortunate that media regularly read it. Obviously this bothers management and they are now joining the discussion. I know this because I can recognize when SATC management has posted. Of course, Dr. Mirin had already made his debut a while ago (with his bizarre, attempt-to-intimidate postings), and I see he rejoined the discussion today. Fortunately the media finds the employees' claims worth looking into, thus the Albuquerque Journal articles last week. Very significant that the editorial board followed up with its editorial challenging DOH to explain Dr. Mirin's contracts.

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    1. Since the website began I have had many people come to me. Some of the stories are simply not credible or hard to prove, while others sound ridiculous but are true.

      The Sequoyah story has so much evidence to support the claims of the multiple employees who have come to me for help. It is hard to say that the claims of the staff are unfounded. There have been several agencies who have corroborated those claims.

      I am extremely proud to call myself a DOH employee when I have strong and ethical peers over at the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center who take their work seriously and speak up when something isn't right.

      It takes more character to say and do something than to stand silently by while others are wronged and/or mistreated.

      The staff at SATC is amazing. I commend you for your strength and courage.

      Please continue to fight for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

      Throughout history there have been many atrocities that have been committed because many did not speak up. Don't be silent. Be heard.

      Delete
    2. You deserve some thanks for that, JP. None of us had even heard of this website prior to having problems with Mirin and Westbrook. We had allowed ourselves to be repressed as we watched our outspoken colleagues being walked out. We were also in a daze of disbelief, watching our program being so damaged. We found our voices again because of you, and many relevant people have now heard them. We will continue talking until we have exposed everything.

      Delete
    3. Yes, JP Thank you so much for all the hard work you do to keep this forum going,it has allowed us to have a voice. There are some out there that are afraid to speak out directly to the Administration at SATC because they have had to watch those who did stand up and speak up get walked out the door for unsubstantiated allegations or transferred out to other facilities. This is the type of tactics Administration is using to keep everyone fearful and quiet. I've seen in several previous post's that if people are unhappy at SATC that they need to "move on" and get another job. What Administration, Mirin and others did not anticipate was that some of us are here at SATC not just for a paycheck, but because we believe in helping this unfortunate population be successful in life and to try to give them the coping skills needed to survive in the "real world". We are not all as "uneducated" as Mirin would like to believe or has said we are. Mirin and Administration have definitely under-estimated us and our intelligence! We will continue to fight for our program and for what it once was! So once again JP, Thank you!

      Delete
  10. What really bothers me about all of this was how DOH kept an administrator like Westbrook (that letter of resignation by the Chief Medical Officer at Turquoise Lodge was so powerful) and hired a contractor like Mirin without properly vetting him first.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mirin should have been relieved of his contractual obligations the day after the Journal article came out. The fact that he was not should be curious to all. Tell us Brad McGrath, what is your investment in Babak Mirin?

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    1. Just because something gets printed doesn't make it true. It doesn't take a genius to realize that! Try again!

      Delete
    2. Oh yea, newspapers regularly make their credibility vulnerable by printing stories and editorials that can't be substantiated. Try again!

      Delete
    3. Since Mirin likes to sue (when he is not being sued), I suppose he is going to try to sue the Journal. He has told us about all of his money and attorneys when he is threatening us.

      Delete
    4. Yes Dr. Mirin, we know that just because it is in print it may not be true - we read through your contracts.

      Delete
    5. Oh, okay Dr. Mirin - everyone is lying about you, right? You clearly have exhibited paranoia in meetings. Is that what is happening now, or is it delusional thinking?

      Delete
  12. In addition to more than half of SATC employees signing the letter of concern to Westbrook, I know at least 15-20 employees who have told the truth while being interviewed by various oversight agencies. Is HR in Santa Fe going to fire all of them? That is a lot of settlement money when more whistleblower's lawsuits are filed!

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    Replies
    1. I wonder how much press a class action whistleblower's lawsuit would get? That could make national news! I wonder if 20/20 would be interested in doing a story on workplace bullying at the State of New Mexico. That would make the governor look really good!

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    2. I think that demonstrates how Anita can't possibly continue as administrator. How will DOH really know whether she is terminating an employee for legitimate reasons or for her usual vindictive reasons or directive from Mirin? Can DOH really rest assured that they won't have another lawsuit on their hands?

      Delete
    3. I guess in some strange way the governor is keeping her promise to have transparency in government. Today's Albuquerque Journal article about the PRC employee winning a whistleblower's lawsuit estimated to cost taxpayers $1 million shows that the corruption is transparent. Wouldn't it be cheaper for taxpayers if the governor ran not only a transparent government, but an honest and ethical one as well?

      Delete
    4. That case was legit unlike this one, keep wishing and hoping. Also, I'm not part of managment. I am a regular psych tech that agrees with the new change of personnel:)

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    5. And you are so entitled to prefer the new regime, I respect that. But you can't genuinely deny the path that Mirin had us on before the whistleblower's stepped in.

      Delete
  13. I am a former DOH employee who checks on an the blog from time to time. I don't know anyone from SATC and I have never felt compelled to post until now, but I think most of you are completely missing the big picture here.

    I don't know if Lea Zukowski's claims are correct; I don't know if Dr. Mirin committed fraud: I don't know if Anita Westbrook is a bad person--- and quite frankly, it DOES NOT MATTER!

    What is at stake here for DOH employees in particular and state employees too is the rights granted to you under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United State of America.

    Pay attention to the language of the Whistleblower's Protection Act:

    10-16C-3. Public employer retaliatory action prohibited. (2010)
    A public employer shall not take any retaliatory action against a public employee because the public employee:
    A. communicates to the public employer or a third party information about an action or a failure to act that the public employee believes in good faith constitutes an unlawful or improper act;
    B. provides information to, or testifies before, a public body as part of an investigation, hearing or inquiry into an unlawful or improper act; or
    C. objects to or refuses to participate in an activity, policy or practice that constitutes an unlawful or improper act.

    If you read carefully, you will notice that it does not matter if Lea Zukowski is right or wrong about her claims, what is being questioned is whether DOH retaliated against her for bringing them up.

    There are several whistleblower's cases in the courts right now, not only in DOH, but look at Diane Moore and Bob Ortiz if you don't believe it. I suspect there are more out there that I am not aware of, and I also suspect more on the way. And there are other cases against our great state that we have all heard of (Annette Prada R.I.P.)

    I appreciate the passion and sincerity shown on both sides of this debate. You all obviously have very strong feelings about these issues. Do you realize that you would not even be able to debate them here if it were not for the First Amendment? Do you realize how much you take for granted?

    DOH employees, regardless of how you feel about the particular issues, I implore you to support each other in having the freedom to express yourselves without the fear of retaliation.

    Our great country was not founded by wimps who went with the crowd, but people who saw injustice and worked to make things better. Think for yourselves and speak up, DOH! Enjoy your right to do so, and respect that others have the same right. God Bless America!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for your wise words. I don't think we have lost sight of the issue - we know it was about speaking up against wrongs. The problem is, DOH doesn't foster an intellectual environment that permits healthy debate within the workplace, so we must use this forum. I realize now it is counterproductive to debate management on this blog. SATC employees used this site as an important platform to expose the problems. That the problems are then redefined by management via posts should not bait us into some futile debate with them. This blog should not be for that function. I, who frequently argues with others on this blog, will stop responding to management's or Dr. Mirin's posts.

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    1. The problem is - management and Mirin aren't posting here to debate with employees. They are posting because they know the media read the blog and they are trying to dispute the claims of employees. It is difficult to allow their wild interpretations to stand without a retort. When Mirin started posting here, I didn't like it, feeling like he was interfering with our only available platform to use our voices, as he had squelched them at work. I don't know what the answer is, maybe management should talk to the media and give their side of things - the problem is they will not be able to substantiate their claims as we have been able to do. Although I appreciate JP's attempt to be fair, I am not sure that DOH management should be permitted to air their views here. We know all too well what their views are- we have to live it every work day.

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    2. It is too bad that DOH administration won't simple talk with their employees. Failure to do so and retaliation to those employees who speak is what created the need for this blog. I think between the bad press and lawsuits, they have important lessons available to them. So far, they are not learning them. We will see what it will take to get them to be responsive in positive and productive ways, or do they wish to fire all of their employees across all departments and in all facilities?

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    3. You would think DOH would be proud to have such invested employees rather than quiet them or punish them.

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    4. I do believe that there are two sides to each story.

      I also do believe management and a certain contractor have been posting comments and attributing them to staff at Sequoyah.

      According to logs, many of the comments have come from one location while the poster has tried to make it seem like the comments are coming from multiple people. While the poster(s) may be sitting in local coffee shop, it does not seem to be the case.

      Previously, DOH has told mangers not to post to the website even to counter commenters' claims. I am not going to give them the same advice but it did seem like sound advice. If Bradley wants to reinforce that position with management at Sequoyah, then more power to him.

      It is painfully obvious that many of the comments are not from staff at Sequoyah but I will let out readers determine which comments are from imposters and which are genuine.

      I welcome open discussion. If management wants to continue to post comments, I would recommend trying to figure out why staff feels they way they do. I have talked to far too many staff members at Sequoyah to know that the discontent is not simply a disgruntled minority.

      Many on the staff were cautiously optimistic when NMPS/Healing Gardens came to Sequoyah. They had no problem with change. They were hopeful. Sometimes change brings improvement. To say people fought change would be an unfair characterization of the staff.

      Please work on improving relations with staff because the only people being harmed in all of this are the kids. A happy staff takes fewer sick days and are more will to pick-up extra shifts. A happy staff would make any manager's (or contracted doctor's) job much easier.

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    5. The issue that I have is not all employee's in management are siding with the administration. In fact it seems that there really are just two sides to all of the issues here, admin and milieu. It seems that supervisors and managers are both feeling the stress of the decisions that admin is putting on them. So for you to say that they are just trying to argue against the psych techs is unfounded. Now obviously I cannot speak for all managers or supervisors, but from talking with them and my experience shows that a few are not happy with the way things are going.

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    6. By "management" I don't think it is meant to refer to lodge managers or lodge supervisors. I think "management= westbrook, our director of nursing, mirin, clinical director. Those 4 people seem to be calling all of the (wrong) shots and don't care about the feedback they get from seasoned employees.

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  15. I would like to take issue with an earlier post stating that things have improved at Sequoyah. In the fiscal year from 7/11 - 6/12, there was an average of 17.5 restraints per months. This is not surprising, considering the violent mentally ill adolescent population served there. Since Mirin's arrival in July on 2012, there have been an average of 23 restraints per month. Last month, December, 2012, saw 23 restraints. Even though Mirin had the 5 kids causing most of the restraints illegally discharged, the numbers of restraints has still gone up.

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    1. When kids are doing nothing to help their treatment they need to be out. They should never be allowed to stay for years without improvement. We are not a warehouse or a storage center, sorry:(. It is a "treatment" center!

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    2. I am glad someone brought up that earlier post. I would like to note that Dr. Mirin said there were "too many restraints documented". What stuck out to me was the word DOCUMENTED. As we hope the oversight agencies have noticed, many of the restraints ordered by Dr. Mirin and his friends were not DOCUMENTED.

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    3. Dr. Durham-
      #1 they are children.
      #2 if they are indeed not benefiting from treatement at SATC, they have the right to be discharged to a place that may be able to help them. Sending a very sick child out via ambulance does not count as a reasonable discharge.
      #3 sometimes change takes a long time and many chances. As a drug addict, I would have expected you to have a bit more compassion.

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    4. You people think you know who is posting, that goes to show you how narrow minded some people are. I am just a psych tech with education but not a phd, sorry! I would almost bet managment never comments on this site:)

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    5. Trust me, Dr. Mirin began posting several months ago or when the post about his dirty contracts first came out.

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    6. Maybe not Durham, but a drug addict none the less!

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    7. PS- Psychiatrists don't have a phd either.
      and PPS- Supervisors, not matter how they got their positions are considered "management".

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    8. Mirin is not management. He is a contract employee. Guess the "educated" ( though ignorant) psych tech may be right on that point. Even a complete idiot guesses correctly sometimes...

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  16. well, it's a good thing that Mirin is no longer allowed to improperly discharge kids as he has done in the past because i'm sure he would probably try to "get rid" of the kids that are having issues out of SATC just to give the illusion that SATC is doing better. I support restraint reduction but as long as we serve the population that we do there will always be restraints and that is just the reality of the job! I don't think the front-line staff are given nearly enough recognition for all of the de-escalation techniques that they use to minimize restraints. Front-line staff keep up the good work that you do and know that it may not be said but you are appreciated!

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  17. gotta say soemthing1/22/13, 6:38 AM

    Someone close to me asked the other day how long Dr. Crumley had practiced child psychiatry. "It's over fifty years right? That sucks, it's depressing that someone with so much experience still had to deal with getting fired from a job that he cared so much about." Dr. Mirin, you do not hold a candle to that record. I don't even know how you chose psychiatry since you really don't care about people. You are not collaborative, you don't care about employees rights, best practices or the first amendment. Things are different in America and you will be prosecuted for your brazen disregard for laws, ethics and people. Threatening people on this blog is purely your nature. Not caring about what people have to say and dismissing it as sour grapes is un-american. You are a ruthless snake oil salesman, in it for profit and not people. That is clear. Hoping you find greener pastures somewhere else soon.

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  18. In other Whistleblower news, I was on NMcourts.com checking the status of the Robert Ortiz vs. DOH case and noticed that the DOH lawyers recently asked for a summary judgement. Sounds like DOH is scared because they do not want the negative PR. I hope this does not happen, otherwise we won't be able to see Mike Mulligan or Duffy Rodriguez made to look like the liars they are in the press. This case needs to go to court.

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    1. Lea Zucowski's case should definitely go to court - it is a perfect example of DOH corruption from what I read. Brad McGrath can kiss his job goodbye when that case gets more media coverage!

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    2. so true! particularly if Brad hasn't cleaned up the mess at SATC - I would think Mirin would be out soon, but if he is still there when this case gets more coverage, Brad will still have more explaining to do. The Albuquerque Journal editorial certainly challenged DOH to provide more than their lame response to why this guy got the contracts and if he is still doing business with the state, Brad will really look bad! Good work, SATC employees!

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  19. SATC has been around for a while now - what, 1980's? I don't remember reading anything controversial sbout it until recently. Seems like ever since this new psychiatrist arrived things have gotten really bad there.

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    1. New doh sec brad out ?

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    2. Yes, we have a new secretary. See new post for announcement.

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  20. This site doesn't seem to "publish" desenting views. Why not? What do the people managing this site have to hide?

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    1. Because this site is about the need for change.

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