(This is part 3 of a 3-part story investigating Stringham Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and the doctors associated with it. Previously we heard an account from a former patient about his stay there and the story of our undercover work. Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.)
You may be aware that Stringham Hospital closed at the beginning of this month due to the investigative work done by this paper. Once we had finished putting the pieces together, they painted a very ugly picture of what had been happening.
Patients became aware of the medical offices of Drs. Igor, Boris, and Bela from flyers posted on lampposts and subway walls in middle- and lower-income neighborhoods. They were written to appeal to the employees of the uptown millionaires and disgruntled plant workers:
Tired of the Bosses Getting Better Medical Care?
We can help you get first class service without the first-class price!
Visit Doctors Igor, Boris and Bela today!
Cash and all Insurance Accepted!
Call 212-555-5522 for an immediate appointment!
Callers would be given same-day appointments to meet with one of the doctors. The receptionist would call the insurance company to determine the person’s coverage.
If the person was paying cash, they would be given a “complimentary” bottle of sugar pills and sent on their way. If they had complete coverage under a union policy, the receptionist called Stringham so orderlies could come to office to pick up the patient. If the receptionist couldn’t get the required information or the insurance was less comprehensive, the patient was given a follow-up appointment so Stringham could decide whether adequate payment could be made.
When the patient arrived at Stringham, he was taken directly to the Burmese cat panel and admitted to the hospital. An insurance claim was initiated with the notation that it was an involuntary admittance and there was no projected date of release. The Siamese doctors received payment for each patient admitted.
Once the animals were admitted, they were taken to one of six rooms. On a rotational basis eight animals were taken from each of the rooms for “exercise”. When they arrived at the lab, Michele told them that they would be testing a new anti-psychotic drug.
Michele spoke with each of her subjects to determine which four would be easiest to control. The others were to be given a lethal injection and taken to a disposal site. The drugs being tested had been created by Dr. Stein in hopes of creating a success that would make him a rock star of science.
The only heroes in this story are the cats responsible for the disposal of the unwanted test subjects. Somehow they managed to dilute the lethal dose so that the animal was unconscious but not dead. The cat responsible for disposing of the bodies would take them to a remote part of the city and leave them to wake up. There were six cats involved in this part of the operation.
The Siamese “doctors” turned out to not have medical licenses. They have been convicted of practicing medicine without a license, insurance fraud and illegally receiving kickbcks. They are currently serving a sentence of six months as “ratters” at the federal penitentiary. They will then be under house arrest for another six months at a public housing project and probation for the rest of their lives. They are required to return all money they received illegally.
Dr. Stein was convicted of malpractice, insurance fraud and unlawful imprisonment. His medical license was revoked. He will spend a year as “class pet” for a first grade class in an undisclosed Staten Island school. He will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of his life. He is required to return all money he received illegally.
Michele was convicted of attempted murder, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. She will spend the rest of her life as a “bad example” during police presentations to school children. She is living in an undisclosed precinct, ratting for them at night.
The other four Burmese were convicted of unlawful imprisonment and insurance fraud. They have each been sent to a shelter specializing in dog adoptions to act as “ratters” for six months. They will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of their lives.
Orderlies who had been with the hospital for more than six months were convicted of cruelty to animals and sentenced to a year’s probation. They are prohibited from working at any medical facility for the rest of their lives. Orderlies who had been with the hospital for less than six months were not charged.
The six cats who assisted the patients in escaping have received honors from the city and placement in fast-track positions at Gibbons Medical Research.
The patients are receiving whatever psychological and/or mental health treatment they require and will receive job placement training when they are finished if their prior positions are no longer available.
Ed and Pavlov have formed a private investigation partnership specializing in medical fraud.