Value Options is Neither – An Open Letter to Tom Warburton, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Value Options, Inc.
Perhaps you read about Pickles, the eight-year-old girl with Schizoaffective Disorder that Value Options is trying to have removed from her residential treatment facility against the medical advice of her treatment team. Adrienne Jones of No Points For Style wrote this brilliant blog post about the situation, which is still ongoing.
Adrienne and Pickle’s mom are dear friends of mine (that’s the three of us, in the picture above, in Los Angeles three weeks ago), and I have reasons to despise Value Options of my own. So I took it upon myself to add a link to Adrienne’s blog post on every posting Value Options made to their Facebook page over the past 30+ days. They never stay. They are removed, usually within a day, but I keep posting them anyway, hoping they will be read by the people at Value Options and anyone who thinks working there might be a great way to help their fellow man (hint: it’s not).
Today, via Facebook, I got this email:
Dear Ms. Hickey,
I’m writing regarding your active online campaign against ValueOptions. I believe your persistence comes from a place of compassion for a story you read online and after reading your own blog, it is obvious that you are very passionate about the advocacy of mental health care in the United States, especially when it comes to minors.
We hope you understand that we share this passion. Our company was founded by clinicians and many of our employees are practicing clinicians. Many of our employees have friends and/or family members who are suffering from mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. Many even suffer themselves. Our mission as professionals and in our personal lives is to help people live their lives to the fullest. We are not in the business of denying care for those that need it. In fact, we believe it is our job to make sure that we manage resources in the most effective manner for those that need. And as I am sure you are aware, funding for mental health treatment is dramatically underserved in both the private and public sector, so resources are scarce indeed. Our goal is to advocate for more spending – public or private – when it comes to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Our goal as a company is to make behavioral health a forefront topic in the national debate, and we have made and continue to make much headway to impact the landscape for effective, accessible care.
Regarding your apparent concerns, I’m sure you know we can’t discuss the confidential facts of any particular case with you. But we do have a few questions for you to consider. Are you sure that you have all the facts in the case you reference? Are you sure that your continued postings are a benefit to others who may need and rely on ValueOptions mental health services? Are you actually driving away those potential jobseekers who share a passion for mental health care? Perhaps those job seekers might help our company become even more responsive and dedicated to the needs of individuals.
From personal experience, we would think you would agree that navigating our health care system is never as cut and dry or as black and white as we would like it to be. But we do our best to make it as seamless as possible for our members, especially those with critical needs. On a national scale, there is an enormous challenge we face, but we work hard to offer individualized services to all our members, because everyone we serve has a unique behavioral health concern.
So again, we hope that you understand that in many ways, we are fighting for exactly the same mission as you and others out there. We ask that you discontinue your repeated attacks, and let us focus on addressing the needs of the individuals we serve and building bridges with like-minded individuals such as you. Now more than ever we should link arms to help move the agenda forward for mental illness. We hope you will consider this request.
Here is my answer:
Dear Mr. Warburton:
Thank you for your letter. Let me correct a few incorrect assumptions:
1) I didn’t just read the story of “Pickles” online. The author of the blog post and “Pickles” mother are personal friends. We advocate for our children with mental illness together, a fact you can witness next Wednesday, February 6, on The Ricki Lake Show, where we all appear together to discuss childhood mental illness.
2) If you read my blog, then you know I am the mother of an adolescent with an Illinois ICG, a program administrated by Value Options under the umbrella of “The Collaborative“. As such, I am subjected to a quarterly inquisition by your organization about whether my son still needs treatment for his psychotic disorder. I am also aware of Value Options current trend of issuing 30 day discharge notices to ICG kids – including my son’s roommate at ODTC – against the medical advice of their residential clinical staff.
To answer your questions:
1) Yes. I’m sure I have all the facts, as I said, “Pickles” mother is a personal friend.
2) Yes. I think it’s important that anyone looking to your organization to be an effective case management organization needs to realize that, your posturing aside, you are ruled by the almighty dollar, above the best interest of patients.
3) I would hope my postings are enlightening those that might apply, thinking they would be able to help, would likely just be sucked into the giant machine of for-profit mental healthcare denial that seems to be your specialty. You are correct that navigating our nation’s healthcare system is a difficult challenge. I have nearly 2,000 readers a day and I support hundreds of parents a year in navigating Social Security, Medicaid, and Special Education. And if I had an inkling that we were fighting the same battle, I’d be happy to support your efforts. But you are a for-profit enterprise whose actions betray the words you write. I hope you will consider my response and reflect on whether your organization truly has the best interest of the people you are charged with managing, or your board and investors at heart.