Testimony supporting Strategic’s plan to build Bettendorf psychiatric hospital

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(Image courtesy Pixabay)

The Iowa Health Facilities Council will consider the application of Strategic Behavioral Health of Memphis, Tenn. to build a psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf during a public hearing Thursday in Ankeny. Here is my submitted testimony to the council in support of the hospital.

June 16, 2017

Health Facilities Council

c/o Becky Swift

Iowa Department of Public Health

Lucas State Office Building

321 E. 12th St.

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

I submit this letter in support of Strategic Behavioral Health today as a former patient of the Robert Young Center, an advocate for the mentally ill, a person in recovery, and a health care journalist and branded content writer.

I even was offered the corporate writer job at UnityPoint (then Trinity) in 2002. I had many wonderful meetings and interviews through the years with David Deopere and Bob Lundin, who I both admired. I worked at the Quad-City Times from 1986 to 1992 and again from 2002 until 2010, when I quit to care for my elderly father. He died of behavioral-variant frontotemporal degeneration almost two years ago. BvFTD is a disease that takes a staggering toll over time not only on the patient, but also on the people around them. My dad received disability Social Security in 1984 at the age of 46 and lived until almost 78.

He also was a patient at Robert Young Center for many years and never made it secret how he felt about them either, but I won’t repeat the words he used.

Today I need to share my story, and we need to address the broken mental health care system in the Quad-Cities once and for all. Why we are even debating this is extremely disturbing in the light of the mental health care crisis here. That hospital could have been built by now and would already be helping people.

On May 6, 2015, I was “arrested” at Amber Ridge Memory Care in Moline, where my father lived, on no charges at all. I never was charged with anything, but they told me my offense was raising my voice.

When they booked me, I refused to sign something regarding an assault charge, as I did not assault anyone. They therefore threw me in the “suicide” cell for two days. By law, you can keep someone two days if they are suicidal.

Not more than two hours later that day a nice young woman from Robert Young Center showed up at the cell window. She was wearing proper identification and such. She asked me what happened. I explained I was involved in a criminal investigation (that indeed has produced fruit) and that I was frightened because I thought I saw a “bad guy.”

Ironically, I had just been diagnosed by an RYC clinician with PTSD a few days before. But my PTSD has been chronic and lifelong due to growing up in a violent home. It’s not just the result of the events of the past several years.

To make a long story short, the RYC clinician who showed up at the jail said she would get me released, repeatedly affirming, “You clearly are not suicidal.”

I would love for someone to ask that woman about her visit with me. RYC told me no record exists of her visit.

My understanding is that RYC does not create a medical record unless there is a bill attached. That’s why the record does not exist. How can this be legal? Especially when the mental health professional says you don’t belong in the jail, so they are holding you in violation of a “suicide” statute that allows them to keep you without charges.

Add the layer of being an informant in a criminal investigation, and boy does it stink. Stinks bad.

I plan to write a book about all of this soon and already have heard from interested publishers/documentary filmmakers.

When I was released, I was taken to the crisis center at UnityPoint in Rock Island. There, I was treated horribly by the emergency room doctor. I filed several written complaints about the entire incident. UnityPoint ended up forgiving the portion of my bill that Blue Cross Blue Shield did not pay, and not for financial reasons.

I actually was readmitted to the hospital a second day, taken by ambulance from the grocery store when I suddenly had a horrible panic attack and literally felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The bill was $1,800 total that BCBS did not pick up. I am very grateful that they forgave the bill.

My records from the stay are wildly inaccurate. For a day, they were “missing.” The patient advocate helped me get them. When I went to pick them up, they only wanted to give me the top page. I said that was not acceptable and laid down a credit card to pay for the whole thing. The clerk said, “Just give me what’s in your pocket” and discounted the rest and gave me the entire file.

The form letter regarding the bill forgiveness was slightly different from others, I have been told by former RYC employees. The first sentence said they certainly try to treat everyone with dignity and respect, or something along those lines.

Today, I am writing stories about addiction and recovery and improving outcomes for the elderly for two Fortune 500 healthcare companies. I am indeed a very blessed man; thanks to the excellent mental health care I receive twice a week at Southpark Psychology. I also am on a medication regimen I have been prescribed by a GP, as quite frankly I do not trust any of the psychiatrists here. Even if they are qualified they don’t have enough time to make a good diagnosis anyway. At either hospital/mental health center on either side of the river.

I attended my first American College of Physicians conference this year in San Diego. It was extremely exciting. Despite all that life has thrown me, today I am successful and healing.

I should have been taken to a psychiatric hospital May 6, 2015, like the one Strategic Behavioral Health wants to build. I never should have been jailed on no charges at all.

Many thanks,

David Heitz

Rock Island, IL 61201

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