A Wrongful Death: One Child's Fatal Encounter with Public Health and Private Greed
Thirteen-year-old Christy Scheck was having trouble at home. Angry with her tough, no-nonsense father, she kept running away, often disappearing for days at a time. When the family therapist proposed that Christy spend some time just down the road at the Southwood Psychiatric Center, the Scheck family - including Christy herself - readily agreed. But something went terribly wrong. On March 6, 1992, while on full-time suicide watch, Christy Scheck was found hanged with the sash of her terry-cloth robe wound tightly around her neck. In A Wrongful Death, bestselling author Leon Bing documents the gripping story of a mother's search for the truth behind the death of her child. That quest helped bring down one of the nation's most powerful mental-health providers, National Medical Enterprises, Southwood's parent company. In the course of her research, Bing found that Southwood was an institution corroded by greed and bad management, with a corporate system designed to extract extraordinary levels of profit: insurance claims processed to maximize reimbursements; staff "charting" parties in which patients' records were changed to reflect a need for continued treatment; psychiatrists' hours drastically reduced; and families shut out of the decision-making process. All of these activities ensured that during the time she was a patient, Christy Scheck did not receive proper or even adequate treatment. As a result, her three-month stay at the facility ended in her suicide.
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