Monday, May 2, 2011

The Life of the New Paradise Center Continues to Improve while MHMR's Drop-In Center Does Not

During the course of events known as the Paradise Center Scandal the sources of information have come via email, blog comments and phone calls. Some have told me information and asked that it not be blogged, quite yet.

Yesterday I got two emails with some interesting information. And someone who helped Paradise Center make its move to their new location sent me pictures of the group having fun setting up their new place, including pictures of the infamous POD.

I'll stick some of the pictures in this blog post for your viewing pleasure and the two emails I just referred to.

The first email, from someone anonymous, is an update on the ongoing process of getting the new Paradise Center up and running, along with a bit of info about how the old "Drop-In" center is doing...

We are getting everything set up and ready for our friends.  We've heard sad reports about the Drop In Center:  limited activities, determined by the staff.  Quiet is the rule now.  No loud fun. Word is spreading about the new Paradise Center location; we had 20 people one day last week.

The next email, also from an anonymous someone, might help wise up MHMR and Jim McDermott as to how this entire sad situation might have played out without a scandal.....

Look at this site.  It is an upfront way of doing what MHMR tried to do in a sneaky, profitable way.  They took the consumer-run organization, Paradise Center, completely out of the equation. 

This is a power point presentation at the New York Psychosocial Rehab Conference.  I've attended one in Atlanta.  These guys are on the cutting edge of what is going on in the mental health consumer world.

Anyway, it's a pretty self-explanatory presentation about how some consumer-run groups are choosing to partner with HMO's in order to be self-sustaining (instead of relying on donations, grants, etc.). 

This is what COULD have happened, had we known that Bravo was even looking to add this service. 

But Dr. McDermott, and the other MHMR folks, don't think that our little group of people are smart enough to take on something like that. 

They have to think for us, you know, since we're all mentally ill.  And they make choices for us, too.  We forgot to do our part and sit in the corner and drool.

If you did not already know, you can now go to the Paradise Center website and make a donation. I've been asked more times than I can count how one can make a donation to the Paradise Center. Just click on this paragraph and you will be brought to the webpage where you can make a donation.


Retired Nurse said...

Add these factors together and one gets this scandal: a man in power over a large taxpayer funded agency + "local control" (i.e. little to no state oversight and having the Trustees and County Commissioners in his pocket) + a "corporate culture" in the agency that rewards conformity and mediocrity + an insecure egomaniac who knows how to use taxpayer funds and donations to his 501(c)3 nonprofit charity to buy political favors and to "neutralize" voices of advocacy + a group of people
/victims not known to have any sense
of empowerment to resist abuse and
exploitation + a community that is rife
with civic/political apathy and lack of
moral clarity and leadership.

Throw in the love of money and the corrupting power of money and the result was this contemptible abuse of public funds and authority to skirt
common decency and the rule of law in
the insatiable pursuit of personal
power and private people entrusted to help those that they victimized. Along the line of abuses by priests and other religious authorities, teachers, foster parents, and such.

A cruel betrayal of public trust.

Anonymous said...

The now sanitized and sterilized drop in center has to be tightly controlled because as of May first BRAVO and MHMR-TC can start making profits off the disabled people who go there, many now not by choice because the MHMR staff make it a requirement that they go there while they wait for appointments to see someone in the clinic or to get their money from case managers to pay bills. That's a lot of control and power in the hands of MHMR.

The reason for the quietness is partly due to power and control that's the MHMR Way. Plus, the four mentally ill peer leaders Tony, Sandy, Lynne, and Cam are having to deal with the stress of working under demanding MHMR-TC +BRAVO management along with working "over" their sicker peers who have many needs, annoying quirks, and great difficulties dealing with drastic changes and the loss of any say in how things are done as was the practice with their consumer-run Paradise Center.

Please keep in mind that the four ill peer leaders MHMR-TC has paid to be in charge of running the place are more familiar with being powerless clients and mental patients rather than a seasoned professional like Teresa Davis. And as mentally ill people they have built-in anxieties anyways even without the additional stress. But that's what the CEO and Chiefs wanted. I'm doing what I can as an HR person to support them. But they hanging on so far.

Wayne said...

Re the cooperation between consumer-run organization Paradise Center and a managed-care company to construct and deliver needed services, it really wouldn't have mattered because Jimmy McDermott would not have allowed it since that would seen as even more loss of control (and thus manipulation) for him. The man has become even more egotistical the longer he's been the big dog in Tarrant County, which was accentuated by the death of the most veteran county leader DA Tim Curry. Compared to Jim McDermott's 24 year rule over MHMR-TC, elected officials like the County Judge, County Commissioners, Sheriff, and DA are like rookies in county government. The massive ego, unchecked power,
and lack of activist energy all contributed to the reckless behavior of this little autocrat. Employees, consumers, and even advocates and community leaders were simply pawns in the man's quest for more personal power and
gain. Those seen as being in his way would be bought of, pushed aside, manipulated/charmed, or just bullied and destroyed like Theresa Davis and the Paradise Center organization, whose successful fight was a major for Jim McDermott and eroded most of the perceived power that he had carefully constructed over almost a quarter century as a "public servant". That woman and the consumer organization have done something historic in terms of resisting tyranny in Tarrant County and asserting the rights and power of mental health consumers in the state of Texas.

Such an accomplishment is no big deal in more progressive states in the Union. But this is Texas, the state that's consistently in the bottom five in just about
every way when it comes to the issue of mental illness
and consumer rights and empowerment.

P.R. consultant said...

So this is the little POD container that we've heard so much about. It's rather small to be able to contain all of the "junk" and "trashy" things that belong to the little nonprofit organization, isn't it?

I can see how bad it made the mhmr agency look really bad. The loss of PR points is hard to put a monetary value on, but the money used to pay for this portable container, packing and loading, and staff time spent on trying to put out the fires from this controversy should be in the tens of thousands of dollars. That's not counting legal bills and loss of productivity that were suffered.

At least BP put their leader front and center to deal with the aftermath of their catastrophe, which incidentally is turning into a scandal after recent revelation that BP had covered up prior problems that foreshadowed the catastrophe. Interestingly, there appears the be a growing list of questionable behavior on the part of MHMR-TC leadership that foreshadowed this mess they've found themselves stuck in. Ironically, legal action/s could be perceived as a less costly solution for the agency, financially, emotionally, organizationally, and so on.

To effectively resolve a major tactical blunder of this kind will require lots of monetary payments to the injured parties and recovery time , and usually sweeping changes in leadership.

James S. said...

We've known Jim McDermott for a long time. He has little feeling for the mentally ill and even _much less regard for them as full human beings. We often get the impression that he sees himself as the head rancher and the clients are his nameless herd that he prods and uses to serve his own interests. The employees were viewed just a tad better because thy're not disabled and could fend for themselves.

This scandal is the collision between his
dehumanizing attitude and a group of self-
empowered mental health consumers who
refused to be treated as less than full human
beings. As far as the cause for the human and civil rights of people with serious mental illness goes, this group's courage and determination
have more than made up for the significant losses on the parts of neutralized advocacy groups like NAMI and MHA.

History will show that this was a major victory for the rights and dignity of people suffering with serious mental illness and that they "overcame" IN SPITE OF BETRAYALS BY SO CALLED FRIENDS, SUPPORTERS, ADVOCATES, AND EVEN INDIVIDUALS AND ENTITIES CLAIMING TO SUPPORT CIVIL RIGHTS AND HUMAN DIGNITY UNDER BOTH THE LAWS OF MAN AND THAT OF THE ALMIGHTY. This scandal revealed which master certain individuals really served and what kind of moral and ethical foundation they have.

Joyce said...

Amerigroup Community Health corporation should thank Paradise Center and its director because it pretty much got the Tarrant Service Area all to itself and raking in millions of excess revenue and unexpected profit margin.

Maybe Amerigroup can make a large donation, from its millions of unexpected profit, to the Paradise organization in carrying out its mission to improve the quality of life and Heath of the community.

Disability Rights Advocate said...

Joyce, here's another idea about how Amerigroup could make things better for the Paradise center. Instead of just making a cash donation, why not enter in a partnership with the consumer-run organization to provide some peer support services and psycho-social rehab and socialization skills development since it looks like this group has been effectively doing these things for years already, but was shortchanged by MHMR-TC.

For once, Amerigroup or another entity in the "power position " should step up and show how to do things right with this spunky little nonprofit group. Instead of exploiting their weaknesses, focus on their strengths and treat them as capable partners.

BTW, it has been nice not seeing the highly offensive comments from the MHMR leaders and the "peer leaders" that they were exploiting. It has been very sad to see how a major voice of advocacy had been literally shut up by the power of money, though.

Maybe a true chapter of NAMI should be started since the current one has been bought off. Just some ideas from an old advocate for disability rights.

Anonymous said...

I feel to remind everyone that the people who make up the Paradise Center, leaders and members and those they help, are VERY DISABLED by some of the worst forms of mental illness. While the newer generation of psychotropic medications have produced some amazing results, the damages inflicted by mental illness itself combines with the side effects of these strong meds rendered these poor souls to limited functionality in basic daily living skills. In other words, this subgroup of the mentally ill essentially straddle the worlds of homelessness and the life in the community that's enabled by professional services and support from a social group like Paradise Center. What Paradise Center and its members were, and are able to accomplish is really quite exceptional. The large majority of these folks cannot cook a meal from scratch, much less drive or take educational classes or work any job requiring regular attendance or more than a two-step process.

MHMR-TC leadership knew who these people were and the damages that they would suffer when MHMR destroyed one leg of their chair, so to speak. The effect was ALMOST as damaging as if the taxpayer funded agency had suddenly stopped helping pay for the newer, but more expensive, psych drugs. Totally unprofessional and unethical, if not illegal.

I agree with other thoughtful commenters who give Ms. Davis the credit for her professional skills, personal dedication, and principled stance to advocate and fight for the rights and respect that these vulnerable folks deserve ...and had worked very hard to possess.

And let me add, as a veteran HR professional, that Ms. Davis did the right and smart thing by not going to the very questionable "mandatory meeting " where the fact that MHMR's attorney was waiting because that meant that the "fix" was in to remove her that day, with the choices being forced resignation or creating a basis to discharge her pulled from the HR+lawyer bag of tricks. In any event, it seems fairly obvious that what they did to her was retaliation for her refusal to go along with their scheme to exploit the vulnerable Paradise folks for improper financial gains.

Anonymous said...

You know what, while all the comments regarding theories and policies are important, what Teresa and the Paradise group just did for a person with severe mental illness on Friday pretty much says it all about these people and how much good they do. Teresa apparently saw this person walking the streets and was able to get them to walk to the new Paradise Center close by. The person had been on the streets for days after being forced out of a group home. They were not making sense due to hunger and being off their meds. Well Teresa's team got to work to help the person by first giving them something to eat and drink, which helped clear up their head enough to choose to follow Teresa's plan to get into a temporary an# appropriate shelter for the weekend. Some of the Paradise leaders accompanied the person to get meds from the mhmr clinic that Teresa had called to arrange ahead of time while others got to working on getting clean clothes for the person, who ironically had gone for help at the old Paradise Center facility but was told to stay away since they were very sick, hungry, and very dirty.

This person could have been picked up by law enforcement for breaking some law in trying to get needed food and drink, and landed in jail and costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Or they could have passed out on the street and requiring 911services which would end up costing even more in ER and hospital services, . Or end up dead somewhere. Instead they're inside this nice place out of the heat and getting back to better mental and physical health.

How much did Teresa and Paradise charge for all they did to help another one of "the least among you"? Nothing. Not even wanting any recognition for what they did to help our community and cash strapped public institutions. Don't even get me started about how MHMR-TC had failed to help this person, one of their clients. The thing that says it all about the mhmr way is that they emphasized to Teresa that the person had to be at the clinic before it's time for them to get ready to go home, somehow comfortable with their mantra that the person could always get their meds at the JPS psych er...voluntarily or in handcuffs.

A. M. said...

I'm an MHMR-TC case manager and I know exactly who the client is that anonymous commenter is referring to. He was one of many clients who got lost in the shuffle due to switching clients from Amerigroup to BRAVO. He is one of the more needy clients and requires a lot of time and skill to help. But that's what case managers get paid to do and why MHMR-TC gets tens of millions of dollars annually to serve. This is another evidence that show how MHMR-TC leadership had screwed up royally by trying to destroy Paradise Center and Teresa Davis.

I laughed at the ignorant comments by MHMR-TC leaders on here casting doubt about Teresa's own faith and how she lives its tenents out in her workaday life because she doesn't really preach...because her practice day in and day out are sermons in action. She's been like a mother figure for those hundreds of clients who were members of Paradise Center.

Jim McDermott and his executive team cannot continue like nothing has happened because many of us know and we have very little trust or respect for them. Sad to say, I'm more disappointed in all those female executives surrounding him whose conduct have hurt the fight for equal rights and opportunites for woman. They obeyed the CEO like trained dogs with no brains or moral conviction of their own. Nevermind staying true to the standards of their Masters level Social Work licenses.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Jim McDermott, CEO for watching out for the clients!!!!! The new "Community Center" is awesome. It's taking time but, soon the WII area with games for clients, and New client computer room will be up and running! Thanks for the funding Jim !!!!!!

Suzette said...

They're b-a-a-c-k!! More nasty words and goofy bragging about misuse of scarce public resources.
Apparently no rocks can keep the MHMR-TC leaders from crawling back out into civilization.

Educated MHMR staff said...

Yea, thanks Jumbo and girly mhmr bullycrats for making the agency the butt of jokes by other mental health professionals.

Kudos, illiterate MHMR Cons. You finally have internet connection. Cartoon Network got too tiring after a while, eh? ? Remember use all the Whiteout you can when correcting you attempts at writing. Smell!!!!

Clinic Staff said...

Mr. Durango, it looks like the many comments and questions about the bond-funded community center that was allegedly stolen from the people with mental illness might have touched a raw nerve: MHMRTC leaders are now calling their lame drop-in-center the "Community Center".

I guess they think people aren't smart enough to know what they're up to now.

The incompetence and shameless theft of others' work and properties are embarassing. First they tried to steal the name Paradise Center, and now they're copying Paradise's term for their main programming. Sad. Sad. Sad.

New and competent leadership needs to be in place soon before many of us competent staff leave this shameful agency.

pathway peeps said...

Thats so sad mhmr cons you still cant even set up a computer yet when many of us have played wii and other games in the new paradise center. we keep seeing 2-3 maintenance vans at you drop-out place but you cons still don't have nothing but b.s.

Before you try to copypsradise with wii games and internet computer you should let people stay in the shade before my parents bring their lawyer and a camera crew out to show how you treat me and my friends like dogs in pound.

Annoyed Sister said...

I want to see the receipts that showed the girlyman paying for all these phanthom benefits to MHMR-TC clients. You MHMR cons are either lying again or are going through a delusional phase, maybe resulting from the stress of trying to do even a fraction of the job usually done by the paradise pros and all the embarassment to yourself and your families.

For people like my sister, the real important things are respect, support, and acceptance she gets from her friends who operate their organization and community center. Not your loony and abusive ways. W people being oppressed, disrespected, and used do not come back...or laugh. That's why no one freely comes to your cookoo's nest, no matter how white the walls (padded?...for you and your O'Donnell off incompetent chiefs) of your dropin cell is.

Why keep lying and deceiving? There's professional help available you know? Right Tony, Lynn, Sandy, Sonja, Donna, Susanna, Jimbo, and the gang?