Responds To House Hearings
Media Contact: Paul Smith
Julia Andrick 208-265-8355 email@example.com
October 11, 2007
We support Rep. Miller and the
Education Committee in doing what is possible to eliminate abusive
and neglectful programs. At the same time, we believe it is
important to preserve viable options for children and families in
need of responsible and ethical therapeutic schools and programs.
Our program has consistently supported regulations and standards for
the treatment industry and we currently hold the highest level of
state licensing and national accreditation that is available to us
Our hope is to have well-crafted
and conceived regulations established that ensure that families and
their children are protected, while preserving their freedom of
choice regarding treatment options.
We want to share with you some
information regarding the fatality at our program that the GAO
investigated and which wasn't brought forth in either the GAO report
or in the parent's testimony:
The day of the young woman's death,
she had hiked less than two miles over a 5 hour period that included
rest breaks in the shade. There was little elevation gain (approx
500'), in temperatures of high 70's. She consumed at least 1.5
liters of water that day.
The family's physician had
prescribed an anti-convulsant (anti-seizure) medication for this
young woman, which she was taking off-label for a mood disorder.
(Off-label means taking a medication for something other than its
intended purpose). The family physician cleared her for
participation in our program knowing that she would be involved in
strenuous physical activity.
A year after her death, the FDA
came out with a warning about this medication, linking it to heat
illnesses (heat exhaustion and heatstroke). It found that the
medication inhibits one's ability to sweat (oligohydrosis), and
makes it difficult for one's body to regulate internal temperatures
through the normal mechanisms.
At the time of her admission into
the program there were no pediatric trials on this drug and no
research into how it interacted with legal medications, much less
illegal street drugs.
Our Nevada branch was certified in
the State of Nevada to operate as a drug and alcohol treatment
program. We proactively met with the state Child Welfare Department
to discuss our operations within the state and how our program could
best adhere to their standards.
This fatality was thoroughly
investigated and there was no finding of fault.
We would like to say that the loss
of a loved one can be devastating. The loss of a young life is a
particularly difficult tragedy for everyone that it touches. In a
time of great grief and loss it is often soothing to have a concrete
answer that explains why a tragedy or accident happens.
Unfortunately, this clarity does not always exist.
About Catherine Freer Wilderness
Therapy Programs Since 1988, Catherine Freer's therapeutic
wilderness program has provided thousands of troubled adolescents
with the tools necessary to address behavioral and emotional issues
and to make a new start. The program serves more than 300
adolescents annually. Licensed by the state of Oregon as both a
substance abuse and mental health treatment program, the company
also operates under Oregon's innovate Outdoor Youth Program
guidelines. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care
Organizations (JCAHCO) accredits the company. Catherine Freer
Wilderness Therapy Programs is a founding member of the Outdoor
Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council and the National Association
for Therapeutic Schools and Programs. For more information, please
visit the web site at www.cfreer.com or call (800) 390-3983.