Cells are born, live for a time, and then die, their places taken by newer models. I've been made over several times since 1953; not one cell is what you might call original equipment. Unfortunately, this continuous-refreshment process hasn't done a thing for my health: I'm still a wreck, emotional as well as physical, and new cells prove to be just as defective as old ones. Or something. I'm not at all sure I understand any of this anymore.

Last trip to the doctor, a couple weeks ago, I let it be known that if this is all I have to look forward to, I'd be amenable to having the plug pulled. This set off the alarms you probably think it would, though I also let it be known that being institutionalized could not possibly be a satisfactory answer: in my present state of mind, the terror of a hospital would be just as lethal as anything I could come up with on my own.

And that was before I read this:

Millwood Hospital is part of America's largest psychiatric hospital chain, Universal Health Services, or UHS. Its more than 200 psychiatric facilities across the country admitted nearly 450,000 patients last year. The result was almost $7.5 billion in revenues from inpatient care last year and profit margins of around 30%. More than a third of the company's overall revenue — from both medical hospitals and psychiatric facilities — comes from taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid.

A yearlong BuzzFeed News investigation based on interviews with 175 current and former UHS staff, including 18 executives who ran UHS hospitals; more than 120 additional interviews with patients, government investigators, and other experts; and a cache of internal documents — raises grave questions about the extent to which those profits were achieved at the expense of patients.

Scores of employees from at least a dozen hospitals said those facilities tried to keep beds filled even at the expense of the safety of their staff or the rights of the patients they were locking up.

Current and former employees from at least 10 UHS hospitals in nine states said they were under pressure to fill beds by almost any method — which sometimes meant exaggerating people's symptoms or twisting their words to make them seem suicidal — and to hold them until their insurance payments ran out.

I mean, it's not like anyone has to twist my words.

Do they have locations here? Of course they do.

The doctor proposed setting me up with a shrink. Right now, I'm just hoping she's not affiliated with any of these UHS characters. And unfortunately for me, that's about the best thing I have to hope for, as this mass of cells becomes increasingly unruly, uncooperative, and diseased.

The Vent

  9 December 2016

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