How to Complain: About CPEP

Today’s mail brought this message from Ms R:  “I would like to learn how to complain. My child and I had a three-day ordeal with Stonybrook CPEP, Long Island, NY, in which I am trying to draft a letter to send to the board of directors and Attorney General as well as to my insurance company. I am not a very good writer, without getting emotional. This ordeal not only left my child traumatized, but me as well that I am now seeking a psychologist for her and myself. I also wanted to have others from my area in Long Island to tell me what happen to them or loved one in Stonybrook CPEP. I believe that when more voices are heard, they will listen, thus far no one has replied. I really would like your help in drafting a letter and where I can send it to get a response and/or investigation. I have been reading stories from people all over the USA and it is terrible that this is happening in America! Laws must be changed.”

My response will start by addressing (a) who to complain to; (b) being a “good” writer; (c) the solitary voice; (d) getting a response, and (d) changing laws.

First, let it be understood that CPEP is a hellhole invented by the New York State Office of Mental Health; there are CPEPs all over New York State.  “CPEP” stands for Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, i.e., a psychiatric emergency room.  CPEP is worse than going to jail and a medical emergency room combined.  In about a year, I have written about the horrors of CPEP nineteen times:  yes, it’s that bad.  In the following list, the first five stories are about individuals inside CPEP, including a young boy, a homeless teenage girl, a hulking young man, me, and the doctor in charge.

“About St. Joseph’s Hospital Psychiatric Services”

“St. Joseph’s Hospital Psychiatric:  Tam, Parts 1 & 2”

“St. Joseph’s Psych Services:  About Eddie, Parts I & II”

“St. Joseph’s Psychiatric Services:  About Me, Part I & II)”

“St. Joseph’s Psychiatric Services:  Dr. Roger Levine, Parts I & II”

“CPEP:  The Uncovered Story, Parts I & II”

“CPEP:  Syracuse’s Gitmo, Part I & II”

“Replying to the CPEP Staffer:  Horseshit”

 “CPEP:  Just another Satisfied Customer”

 “Being ‘Disappeared’ Into CPEP, Parts I-IV”

Every human being who passes through the door of CPEP should file a complaint, and here are the individuals and agencies that have oversight:

To file a complaint about CPEP in its totality:

  1. The Director of CPEP
  2. The director’s boss: the Chief Executive Officer of the hospital
  3. The hospital CEO’s boss:  the Board of Trustees (or Directors)
  4. The Regional Office of the New York State Office of Mental Health
  5. The Regional Office’s boss:  the NYS Office of Mental Health in Albany
  6. PAIMI:  Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness
  7. PAIMI’s boss:  NYS Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Person with Disabilities

To file a complaint against a Mental Health Counselor (aide):

  1. The Director of CPEP
  2. The hospital’s Dept. of Human Resources

To file a complaint about a nurse:

  1. The Director of CPEP
  2. The hospital’s Director of Nursing
  3. The NYS Dept. of Education (licensing agency)

To file a complaint about a social worker:

  1. The Director of CPEP
  2. The hospital’s Dept. of Social Services
  3. The NYS Dept. of Education (licensing agency)

To file a complaint about a physician:

  1. The hospital’s medical director
  2. The NYS Dept. of Health, OPMC (Office of Professional Medical Conduct) (licensing agency)

For each category, go on your computer and write up one complaint, then make copies (on your computer) and put the correct address on each copy, then print and mail them all.  Complaining to the Board of Directors and the Attorney General is not an effective use of your time and energy.  There already is established a chain of command that has an orderly system for taking complaints.  Use that system.  That’s where the most power is.  The Attorney General’s Office will just get confused trying to figure out where to refer your complaint. 

Filing a complaint with the insurance company is an interesting idea, and one that’s never occurred to me.  I have Medicare primary and Medicaid secondary and I don’t know what they would do with a complaint.  Since the insurance company is paying out the big bucks, they have a vested interest in only paying for services you actually are receiving, but you are mostly complaining about quality of care and I don’t know if insurance companies are set up to handle that.  In New York State, the Commission on Quality of Care is specifically charged with that duty.  If you file with your insurance company, please let me know how they respond.  After all, this is the medical industry and money matters above all else.

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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14 Responses to How to Complain: About CPEP

  1. Fred says:

    I also have a complaint about stony brook. I was having some anxiety issues, issues that I was assuming were anxiety issuses. I went to the e.r. To get some idea of why my heart was beating rapidly and sweats etc. I was put into the psych ward after repeatdly telling them that I did not want my property taken away and if that was the case then never mind. I was going to go to another hospital. That being said, I was then detained against my will for two hours inside the waiting/ day area behind locked doors untill finallt without seeing any doctor or psychiatrist they just said ok you can leave now. All the while they elevated my anxiety level times ten. I was treated like a common criminal and none of the staff would even pay attention to what I waa saying. Only kept repeating that I could not leave untill I saw a doctor. Which I never did. I came in there on my own free will yet was not allowed to leave. It was a very stressfull situation in which I should have never been put into a locked psych ward. I never got any help, only made my problem worse.

  2. I was in CPEP once and to me it was alright. It got me away from a very bad situation I was in. I liked how they have a big flat screen TV in the day room area, most of the staff were nice and cared about me, and I liked that I was able to sleep on a gurney that you can adjust the back so you can either sleep while sitting or laying down. I chose to lay down on the gurney.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Wouldn’t it have been nice if you’d actually had a bed? Which CPEP were you in?

      • A bed with a padded foam mattress would have been awesome. I didn’t mind sleeping on a gurney that night. Everyone layed on gurneys. Gurneys were padded. I was in the Stonybrook Hospital CPEP.

      • annecwoodlen says:

        Gurneys are intended for people who are sick in the body and need to be moved from examination to x-ray to the operating room. It is, once again, an example of how the medical model is wrongfully used to treat people who are undergoing extreme emotions.

        I certainly can understand how simply being removed from a really bad situation–usually defined as a situation in which other people are treating you awfully–can be enormously beneficial but, seriously, was there any reason why you couldn’t have had a bed? Honestly, if someone had put you in a hotel room, would you have done just as well?

    • I’ve would have done just as well in a hotel room. However, hospitals in the inpatient Psychiatric facility do have beds and they can give you a lot of help.

  3. C says:

    I hated “Stony Brook CPEP” , I was having panic attacks I never had before psychiatric drugs and wanted some treatment for this. The treatment for this was worse than a criminal arrest . Anxiety off the charts and the treatment for this is to confiscate my wallet and cigarettes then lock me up for “observation” behind locked doors ! Then threaten to tie me up and inject me cause I don’t like this and want to have a cigarrete and go home. This is my “mental health assessment” ?

  4. Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it. Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    • annecwoodlen says:

      If you are working with a power greater than yourself then you do what that power chooses, not what you choose. At least, if you’re smart you do. Too many people choosing what they will do; too few listening to what the Lord wants them to do.

  5. Ms. R says:

    Hi, thank you so much for your guidance. The more I read about you and others it makes me angry. I would like to explain why the Attorney General – because someone has to be the lawmaker and it being passed around will hopefully go on someone desk that will also feel the same – the laws must be changed on how CPEP and hospitals treat patients. I’m writing the insurance company because no hospital should have CARTE BLANCHE with your insurance if I tell you I do not want your services – do not charge me or my insurance. I asked that they release my child so I can get her proper care outpatient service – which would cost a whole lot less than putting her in a hospital. Millions of dollars are spent every year at these hospitals with no questions asked, but when I needed a stress test done it took weeks for my doctor to get approval and still there was limitation on what type. The insurance company wanted to know why it was necessary, checking my medical records, cost, etc, but CPEP/hospitals can bill insurance or your medicaid no questions asked. This has to stop – we should have a voice on our care. Thanks again for your support.

    • Lee says:

      I have a true story, I want to share, a voulantary ER visit, turned into destroying my life, I had no prior history, I was in a mental health crisis I have learned they call it in the REAL world of medicine! It was a 1x incident. But I can tell you this story needs to go to a public, and it may just do that soon, because you see when mislabeled in the mental heath system, you now have a stigma to live with, fraud in procedures, hospital violations, and continuous errors entered into reports have lead me to be in the system over 4 years, until now they have been caught, documents show catastrophic errors made. I need to also find legal assistance, this did not happen at any of the hospitals listed here, but this story, my story, may just make laws change. It is in excuse able please let me know if anyone here can direct me, who to report this too, bottom line delay of diagnosis, fraud many counts including medicare part A, all wrong psychiatric drugs, now weaned from all, wrong treatment, which was illegal, battery, this all has to do with, no assessment, a assumed provisional diagnosis that never was looked into, patient boarding, and transfer to wrong part of this same hospital! This ER also had yes a CPEP within it, documents show this, so you see it was not just the program, the intake report cpep, is most accurate, however, I never got to the cpep unit for 72 hour observation, medical treatment, assessment, diagnosis, care, and treatment! Instead I was locked, up in the 292 ICU unit for the mentally I’ll! Irreversible damage has been done through out all this time. We need changes to be done, I know this most likely has happened to others, who never figured out what had happened to them, or their loved one, it was NOT a ER I walked into for bizarre behavior with psychotic FEATURES, but was in fact also Housed the CPEP program, where I was mistaken, for a psychiatric patient, kidnapped into this mental health, health care system, kept on toxic drugs, brain damaging, etc the list of damages due are huge, and well deserved accountability will be had! How many other people, became victim, as I have, and still in the system, alone, scared, most likely drugged, etc. And families do not know this can and does happen, I was One of the lucky? To find these truths out about my records,
      My life destroyed along this very long, endless path, but now justice needs to be had, accountability for my life that has been like falling dominoes one, by one, as I lost everything I loved, everything I had, took a lifetime to build, but most of all, I lost myself, and who I was, forever changed. I want accountability, compensation, and then these false mental health records court sealed, and I have documents to do so. I just need the right direction to go, and the right people to help me get closure to this nightmare. Anyone?

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