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June 16, 2014

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June 16, 2014

My daughter spent a year at Victor, and it was the worst year of our lives (and we've had many bad years due to her extreme illness). My assessment of this organization is based on my three-times-weekly visits to my daughter in her house, each visit several hours long, in which I had more opportunity to observe staff behavior and interaction with the children than any inspector. I would discourage any parent or mental health agency from placing a child at Victor Treatment Center, especially since I have spent an equal amount of time at the facility where my daughter went after Victor and have seen that high-quality care that welcomes family participation happens elsewhere. Examples of the incompetence we experienced follow.

I chose Victor in part because I was told multiple times that parents were welcome any time. For months my daughter's therapist attempted to get me to visit her less and was not interested in interacting with me on many other topics. He was a very green, inept therapist who thought he knew far more than he did and had no respect for my expertise.

After two weeks at Victor, the psychiatrist there decided to make a major medicine change on the basis of one conversation with my daughter. She did not consult either the staff who had been working with her on a daily basis since she had arrived (and who disagreed with her perceptions) or the psychiatrist who had treated my daughter for 8 years before her arrival at Victor. When she asked for my consent to change the medicine, she had no interest in my discussion of my daughter's history and its implications for this medicine change--she insisted that she knew what was necessary and I clearly was not taking my daughter's best interests into account.

Despite my specific instructions that I would take care of my daughter's physical health needs, after 6 weeks at Victor my 12-year-old was sent with a male staff member whom she didn't know to a doctor whom she didn't know in a facility that she didn't know for a pelvic exam for a completely nonemergency condition. I was not consulted on the need for this exam or whether it should happen--I was merely informed that it was happening and I would be informed of the result.

Inducing guilt was repeatedly used to manage students' behavior--my daughter was told by a veteran staff member that she"could have injured him and he wouldn't be able to work and his kids wouldn't be able to eat." The same veteran staff member threatened to hit my daughter with a belt.

Staff turnover was extreme. After one year, only one staff member who worked at my daughter's house still worked there. She, the supervisor of my daughter's house, clearly needed mental health treatment herself for obsessive behavior that sometimes prevented her and other house staff from interacting as effectively as possible with the children.

After a psychotic episode during which she injured a staff member who had made a poor decision in taking my already escalated daughter in a car without additional staff support, my daughter was sent to juvenile hall rather than a psychiatric hospital. When I objected, my daughter was expelled from the facility without the required 7-day notice.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Conduct massive amount of staff training on mental illness, working with families, recognizing and treating mental illness in staff members. I would also conduct an investigation into its finances. 990s indicate that, at least in 2010, some staff members received outrageous amounts of compensation (in excess of $500K).

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A little

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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