Teens Shot Up and Tied Down at CATS (Center for Adolescent Treatment Services)

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CATSImagine One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in real life. Imagine, white walls, fluorescent lights, restraints and what is being called “booty juice” injected into teens and children. Now realize that this isn’t your imagination this is a place in Pembroke Pines known as CATS.

The first story to really break about CATS was one of a 14 year old girl named Kate who was punched in the face by a police officer and then pepper sprayed. The following stories are ones of young teens, men and women, being tied down, and shot up with something that they were told was called “booty juice.” Which reportedly makes them “loopy.”

But from the outside CATS is supposed to be a long term behavioral health program for troubled teens. It operates on a point system that ranges from levels A to D. For good behavior, the patients move up in levels and then receive more privileges. When they break the rules, or are engaging in “maladaptive” behavior they are not moved up in levels and are quite frequently punished. In fact, the investigation into CATS shows that girls were restrained 81 times and the boys 32 times. Restraints are often used for the most minor infractions. The restraints tie the teen, face down to the bed, by all four limbs. The teens are then, most likely shot up, with what DCF still doesn’t know what it actually is, “booty juice.” The booty juice is meant to sedate and calm them. 

Teens tell stories of people being pulled to side room and restrained everyday. They talk of hearing the screams until the “booty juice” kicks in.

There are multiple allegations against CATS that extend far beyond just the restraints and sedation though. There are reports of therapists sleeping with patients or asking sexual questions. There are also reports of the facility being dirty, and the teens not being allowed to bathe on their menstrual period. There are reports of hair being in the food, and of staff cursing or bullying the patients. Oh and the fact that someone died there in August 2013.

Now, none of those allegations were substantiated but what the Broward Sheriffs Office did find in their investigation was the 81 reports of girls being restrained and the 32 reports of boys being restrained. Which automatically set off alarms. Why? Because this was over the course of only 7 months. That means someone was restrained and shot up every other day. Not just that though, when kids were being restrained staff would talk on their personal cell phones, in fact the staff was hardly educated at all. The frequency of restraining is not normal. The use of restraint should slowly be phased out of any kind of treatment program. At most places where the staff is professional and where they really care about the patients they try to find a solution and restraints are not a solution. Good work by the staff would include finding out why the individual was angry and getting to the root cause of it not restraining them.

This place is every parent, and every child’s worst nightmare come true. In fact, there was one young lady who self-injure in order to go to the hospital. When she would get to the hospital she would try to tell them about CATS and would be sent back. When she was sent back she would just injure herself again to get out of there. It is frightening to think about.

The story of the CATS facility is still ongoing. So is the investigation. It is hard because CATS, with its 56 beds, run by a Hialeah based nonprofit group known as Citrus Health Network and its 5.7 million dollars billed for services are only being slapped with a few “recommendations” on how to change their program. Paperwork provided by one former resident shows that Medicaid was billed 406 dollars a day for the care. But maybe, just maybe, the death of one teen in August 2013, named Octavius, the same death we mentioned before, will make a difference finally.

Finding a facility to help with a child, whether it be for mental illness, addiction or whatever is serious. And when you do it on your own you may not be capable of reading between the lines at some facilities. That is why calling a professional that has relationships with reputable facilities is always your best bet. They know these kind of stories and they know which places to avoid. And when it comes to addiction and mental health that is what we do best. If you or someone you love needs help please dont hesitate to call us. While most facilities are great there are some that dont have your best interest at heart. So please let us help you. Its free.