Replying to the CPEP Staffer: Horseshit

Dear Molly/Mary,

On June 28, 2011, you replied to my post “CPEP:  The Uncovered Story,” which had been posted on January 13.  You called yourself Molly and started by saying “Your child would not be put into a room with ‘Al the convicted killer.’  Good old Al would be at a police station or an institution. CPEP is for emotional crises.”

The fact is that in “The Uncovered Story” I was not positing some possible universe; I was reporting on what I had seen in CPEP.  If
you will go to “About St. Joseph’s Hospital Psychiatric Services (Part I)” []
you will find the report of what I observed when I was in CPEP with the child and the convicted killer.  You are denying reality, which is not surprising since you work at CPEP.

It is typical of employees at CPEP to take the position that if they don’t know about it then it didn’t happen.  You choose to be blind
to what is true and real.  Your observation that “Good old Al would be at a police station . . . CPEP is for emotional crises” entirely misses the point.  Al was not in CPEP because he killed someone; he was there be because he suffered from an aggression disorder.  Even
convicted killers have emotional crises—except, apparently, in your blind little judgmental world.

You go on to say, “So your child may be sitting next to Al the schizophrenic who has an FBI chip under his skin, a suicidal teenager, or a guy covered in manure for some unknown reason. Are these pretty circumstances? No, certainly not. Is this what CPEP was created to work with? Yes.”  Tell me, Molly, if it was your child, would you be okay with that?  I mean, are you okay with your kid going to a strip joint?  A bar?  Being locked up in adult prison?

There is a reason why we segregate child from adults at various points in our society.  It is because innocent child lack the experience to understand some of the horrific things going on around them, and they don’t have the skills to protect themselves.  Instead of being upset about this child being locked up with a killer, and trying to figure out a way to protect the young and vulnerable in your care, you are saying that it’s okay.  You work for CPEP.

Then you say, “Perhaps CPEP is understaffed but the company is currently underway for some major revamping.”  This sentence doesn’t make sense.  What is “the company?”  CPEP is owned and operated by St. Joseph’s Hospital under the auspices of the NYS Office of Mental Health.  There is no “company.”

Next, “Right now CPEP is fit to work with about 2000 patients a year. They end up seeing 3X that many which has caused for its bad rap. Hopefully with advancements and some changes, the program will be better able to serve those in need.”  I know that CPEP sees about 7000 people a year.  This is the first I’ve heard that it was only designed for 2000 patients.  CPEP only was built about twenty years ago.  What kind of asinine planning led to the creation of a unit that was overcrowded about twenty minutes after it was opened?  And what have you done about it, Molly?  Did you ask your boss what
could be done?  Did you lobby the hospital administration?  Did you file complaints with the NYS Office of Mental Health?  Did you work with state legislators?  Did you go to the news media to report this
horrible overcrowding?  Did you work with NAMI or other patient advocate agencies?

It appears that what you have done is sit on your butt and ‘hope’ for advancements.  If you worked on the maternity unit and it was serving three times as many patients as it was designed for, would you have done anything?  How about if you worked on the cardiac unit or in the medical emergency room?  You are acknowledging that you cannot provide the quality of care that was intended, and yet you do nothing about it.  You say you’re getting a “bad rap,” but you don’t appear to give a damn about the bad treatment the patients are getting.

You go on to justify the gross inadequacy of the entire psychiatric system:  “And yes, of course patients are going to be sent out of the county. They are going to be sent wherever 1.) there is room
and 2.) where they will recieve the best treatment. Onondaga county clearly does not hold all of the organizations EVER. If a place in Oneida county better suites my loved one, is the distance of me not being able to see them as frequently as I would like going to stop me from helping them the best way possible? Absolutely not.”

Onondaga County has never planned for, funded or provided adequate psychiatric care for its own citizens and all you have to say is “of course.”  What if Oneida County did the same?  What if all the other counties around us were sending their patients here?  Exactly where do you think it would stop?  It is our responsibility to take
care of our own, and we’re not doing it.  What if the other counties have just enough hospital beds for their own people but not for ours?  What happens next?

On January 28 I posted “CPEP:  Syracuse’s Gitmo (Part II)” [], which you replied to July 15, using the name Mary.

This time you say, “You exaggerate beyond belief. People do
want to work at CPEP. I work at CPEP and you are misguided. It is not a fun place to go, I am unsure what you expect. It has its difficulties due to the small space. That will all be changed come December when the new facility opens. To say that you are stripped of your rights more than a terrorist at Guantanamo is such a
rediculous statement that I am speechless on how to respond. You cannot expect 5 star hotel treatment at an emergency room. Give it a rest.”

What I expect, Molly/Mary, is to be treated with respect.  What I expect is not to have three people crowded into a room designed for one.  What I expect are staff workers who believe me when I state a fact.  What I expect are staff members who advocate for their patients, who are not complacent, and who are intelligent enough to see the big picture.

What I get is you, Molly/Mary.  What’s wrong with CPEP is your narrow-minded, illogical, inarticulate justification that it’s okay to treat people badly.  What I would like more than anything in the
world is to lock you in your own unit, without special privileges.  How would you like that, Molly/Mary?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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4 Responses to Replying to the CPEP Staffer: Horseshit

  1. Gretchen Renders says:

    The comments are so true. What do you suggest people in emotional crises or a family member in crises should do? Is there a telephone number to call that will not bring police to the scene? 911 won’t work. Plus never call the police. Most are clueless on how to help or treat an emotionally distressed person. Too bad some of these people aren’t required to learn about empathic therapy.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Good comment and question: what to do in an emotional crisis?

      I don’t think an emotional crisis occurs without warning. I think the signs are there but are being ignored until it’s too late. You prevent an emotional crisis by being honest about what you or your family member is experiencing and getting a good therapist in time to avert disaster. If you have a good therapist on tap then a crisis can be dealt with in the home without calling in outsiders.

  2. iammybrain says:

    I know nothing about CPEP in Syracuse but I can attest that my brief stay in Beth Isreal Medical Center-Boston’s Wing 4 Inpatient Psych. Unit was like walking into hell. I wont bother with the details, but it was much like you describe in your earlier articles. I admitted myself because I needed help and wasn’t given a single minute of therapy or help. Mostly I was treated like a POS by the staff, and I was lucid, polite, and friendly. Like you say, there is no, absolutely NO excuse for the treatment that many receive in these units. I will never, ever go back to an inpatient psych unit for any reason. Whoever is defending this type of treatment of patients is ignorant at best and sociopathic at worst.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      You are absolutely one hundred percent right. Your perceptions and conclusions about your “treatment” are exactly on target. One old woman was raped and then taken to CPEP. She later said that if she ever got the urge to go to CPEP again, she would go out and get drunk instead. Probably a better choice.

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