The other day I posted an article about Rick Santorum’s support for Teen Mania Ministries, a fringe Christian group that seeks to brainwash our youth by emphasizing the importance of faith and teaching them to defend it against the onslaught of secular thought. In other words, minimize their ability to think for themselves. But there’s an even sleazier side to Mr. Christian.

After his senate loss in 2006, Rick Santorum was appointed to the Board of Directors of Universal Health Services (UHS). According to the UHS’ Security & Exchange Commission Filings, as of February 28, 2011, the company owned 25 acute care hospitals and 206 behavioral health centers in 37 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of these are residential treatment centers (RTCs), which make up a huge chunk of UHS’ business.

On May 16, 2007, Santorum acquired 10,000 options to purchase class B common stock. This was followed by options for 5,000 more on November 21, 2009. In 2010, Santorum received options for 15,000 shares and another 15,000 on January 21, 2011. On June 15, 2011, after deciding to run for the presidency, Santorum resigned from the board of UHS. Overall, Santorum earned $395,000 in director’s fees and stock options while at UHS. In addition, UHS donated $17,250 to Santorum’s presidential campaign for the first nine months of 2011.

Here’s the sleazy part of all of this. Nearly three years after Santorum was appointed to the board, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against UHS for “inpatient psychiatric care that was not provided.”  Bottom line is that UHS received Medicare funds for inpatient care of children between the ages of 11 and 17, and it was basically bilking the system. The DOJ is close to settling a case of Medicaid fraud in one of its RTCs. The DOJ already settled a case in 2009 with UHS for $27.5 million, allegedly because doctors were bribed to refer patients to a hospital in Texas. Of course, it is possible that Rick Santorum knew nothing about this but, frankly, that is hard to fathom since the board on which Santorum served is responsible for the general management of the company’s operations. Yet, these are not the worst allegations about UHS.

UHS a cesspool of failed treatment resulting in suicide attempts and patient abuse

Children admitted to RTCs are generally those who have not adjusted to foster care, or have severe mental health or behavioral issues. Children are often placed in these secure facilities by child-welfare agencies or the juvenile justice system. Parents may also turn to these facilities as a last option if their insurance will cover it. In this instance, it would be like a child being admitted to any other hospital for any other reason. Parents do not give up their parental rights, and they are actively involved in the decisions made for their children. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. When parents must put their children in the care of others away from home, it’s stressful even if it’s a positive experience. The nightmare stories coming out of the UHS inpatient facilities can hardly be described as positive.

One woman described bringing her daughter to the UHS Timberlawn facility in Dallas, Texas,  after a series of private therapists failed. During the intake process, she explained to her daughter’s caretakers that she had an extreme fear of needles. Her parents asked that she not be injected, and the staff assured them that they would not use needles. Once the girl was left there alone, the staff did just the opposite of what was requested by her parents. She was restrained and injected three times with tranquilizers. The next morning, she tried to commit suicide by removing her pants and tying them around her neck so tightly that the staff had to cut them off.

A doctor at the facility called her family and apologized, telling them that it would not happen again. Yet, on the next shift, the nurses again tried to inject their daughter. This resulted in a second suicide attempt. According to the girl’s family, their daughter had never talked about or attempted suicide before being admitted to Timberlawn.

In addition, the family thought the nurses at Timberlawn would never use needles because it was a parental decision. “You might as well waterboard her,” said the girl’s step-father. “That’s what it felt like. That was kind of the overtone of everything. It seemed like that was the level of care we got at that hospital.”

Another family, desperate to get treatment for their 14-year old schizophrenic daughter, placed her in UHS’ San Marcos Treatment Center in San Marcos, Texas.The girl had been in and out of the children’s hospital psych ward several times over a six-month period, and in acute care for two months prior to her admission to San Marcos.

Although the staff promised that the girl would be under constant surveillance for the first 48 hours, the girl was abused by another patient during that time frame. Her head was slammed into a concrete wall, she was punched in the face and suffered a bloody nose. The staff at San Marcos left a message for her parents that evening making it sound like it was just a minor incident, a disagreement.

The next day, however, the girl passed out, had no pulse and no blood pressure as a result of the attack. It took hours for the facility to inform her parents of the situation. Even more unbelievable, San Marcos didn’t call 911,or have their patient checked out by a medical doctor. The only health care professional who examined the girl was a psychiatrist. According to the staff, they laid her down and she started breathing on her own. The girl told her parents her face was black and blue, but the staff insisted that the only injury she suffered was a bloody nose. When the parents wanted to Skype to speak with their daughter and see her injuries for themselves, they were denied. The facility cited confidentiality issues.

According to the girl’s mother, the psychiatrist accused her of trying to micromanage her daughter’s treatment. He also told her that her frequent calls put the staff on edge and interfered with therapy. (I’ll bet, judging from their level of care.) She removed her daughter from the facility one month later. The girl had been assaulted six times during her short stay at San Marcos.

Of course, candidate Santorum has declined to say anything about his former employer now that he’s in the midst of a presidential run.

The family values candidate?

While still a senator, Santorum nominated Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for a “Congressional Angels in Adoption Award” for his work on The Second Mile program. (The award was rescinded in 2011 after the Penn State pedophilia scandal broke wide open.) However, the fact is that by the time the award was given to Sandusky on September 24, 2002, there were already five alleged cases of molestation and one case of child rape against Sandusky. It was the same year that Sandusky was seen performing a sex act on a child in the shower. By March 1, 2002, before the award was made, several officials at Penn State had already been dismissed.

The Penn State scandal was covered up for years by many officials at the university, and that includes the revered Joe Paterno. I’m not saying that Rick Santorum, himself a graduate of Penn State, knew the extent of Sandusky’s perversion. I guess my question is: Why aren’t the recipients thoroughly vetted prior to receiving an award like this? That would be my first instinct. Perhaps a good suggestion before awards are handed out would be to check on the character of the person receiving the award. The first place to start would have been at Penn State itself where officials had already been informed of Sandusky’s transgressions. Once the story hit the news, Santorum’s only response when asked about it was that he hoped the sex-abuse scandal wouldn’t damage a coach who “served in such distinction for all these years.” No mention of the damage done to the kids. No mention of the damage done to their families. All Santorum could muster was a ‘poor Joe Paterno’ reaction.

Rick Santorum is running for president on a family values platform. He continues to win on that platform, most recently in Mississippi and Alabama.It’s important that the public knows what he’s really all about.  He is opposed to abortion, contraception, LGBT civil rights and same-sex marriage. Apparently pedophilia isn’t on his list.