Modal close

Hi there,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


Mental Health Patients May Undergo Surgery for Profit

Default content image
Media Options

In January of 1998, six mentally impaired men from the Leben Home for Adults in Queens, New York were piled into avan and taken to a local hospital where they underwent prostate surgery. Each week for the next three weeks, anothervan-load went for surgery. Then, an anonymous hospital worker phoned the New York State officials and said that thementally impaired men appeared unable to give consent for the surgery. The van-loads promptly came to a halt.

The health department has since revoked the license of the doctor who arranged the surgeries and temporarilysuspended the license of the doctor who performed them. Health officials charged that the hospital had used”assembly-line techniques to mass-produce surgery” that generated tens of thousands of dollars in Medicaid andMedicare fees for the hospital and at least one doctor.

But a team of lawyers is claiming the state has not done enough. They charge that the operator of Leben home, wholikely received kick-backs for the arrangement, got off scot-free.

They are asking for his removal and for damages.

The Leben home, like most adult mental institutions in New York, is a for-profit facility. These large private adulthomes are a legacy of the nation’s effort to empty its mental hospitals and move patients to community residencies.

Today we look at the Leben case, but also at the process of de-institutionalization itself.

Florida is at this moment undergoing de-institutionalization, with Governor Jeb Bush planning to shut down thestate’s largest mental hospitals.


  • Jeanette Zelhof, attorney with MFY Legal Services.
  • Faye Barnette, executive director of NAMI Florida chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
  • Rhonda Atkins, mother of 23-year-old patient in G. Pierce Wood, the first state mental hospital that JebBush is trying to close.
  • Dr. Fuller Torrey, clinical research psychiatrist, President of the Treatment Advocacy Center (Arlington,VA), and author of: ??Out of the Shadows: Confronting America’s Mental Illness Crisis (1996, John Wiley andSons).

Related link:

Related Story

Video squareStoryMay 20, 2015Sgt. James Brown, 26, Survived Two Tours in Iraq Only to Die Begging for His Life in Texas Jail
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation
Up arrowTop