Although my daughter has not fully recovered from her eating disorder, she is well on her way thanks to the staff at Puente De Vida. My daughter, who is 12, began her journey into anorexia in January of this year. We didn't find out until mid-May what was going on. I thought I could help her and she would begin eating once summer vacation began, but I was wrong. After several fruitless efforts with a local therapist, my insurance company referred me to Puente De Vida. Steve Schaeffer, the director, promptly returned my phone call and spoke to me at length about eating disorders and how they are treated at his facility. My daughter was admitted as an outpatient within the week (outpatient only because my insurance does not cover residential treatment facilities, unfortunately!). Once there, the caring staff embraced us. Since she is so young, parental involvement was very important and I was included in everything, except her weekly individual therapy sessions. I learned so much during the time my daughter was in treatment. I learned how to meal support and was given a meal plan for her specific needs. We had countless hours of family therapy with Steve himself, which were invaluable. I had to remove my daughter for reasons not related to Puente De Vida, and I was only able to do so because I learned how to deal with her eating disorder. In addition, Steve is making himself available to us several times a week as we transition from an eight hour a day group setting to being back at home. My daughter has begun to eat and is on her way to recovery, thanks to Puente De Vida. When searching for a facility to treat your or your loved one's eating disorder it is important to go and meet the people involved in treatment for yourself in order to form a correct opinion. Should my daughter not recover at home, she will most definitely be returning to Puente de Vida.
I went to Dr. Tyson and was told that I was quite literally dying. A few days later I was on a plane to California. I went to a residential treatment center, Puente de Vida. That center rescued me and helped me rescue myself, from the monster of my eating disorder. I suffered for six years, from 13 to 19, with anorexia and bulimia. The treatment team, including the other patients, showed me how to live without abusing my body. In RTC I was able to leave all my fears and anxiety, and focus only on recovery. The 24 hour care allowed me to start on the journey of recovery. I never could have learned everything I needed to learn without RTC. It saved my life. Now, four years later, I am still in recovery. I own that to PDV. I was blessed to be in RTC for 8 months and partial for 4 months. The step down process allowed me to practice being on my own while still having the support I needed. I had individual and family therapy sessions with Steve Shaefer and he helped my parents and older brother get to a place where they could support my recovery. I am absolutely grateful to all of the treatment I was given and so thankful I was given all the time I needed to get recovery. –Jenna D
I just wanted to say THANK YOU to ALL
of the staff at Puente de Vida (PDV) for saving my life. When I first came to PDV I was scared and my eating disorder was even angrier. I did not want to give up my ED. My ED was defiant and I know at the beginning it was not easy, My ED was angry, sad, alone. But after a while my ED was not as loud and I realized that I was not alone. I was surrounded by peers and most importantly therapists, nurses, doctors, and an R.D. who really cared about me, who really cared about my life. Heather the dietician there is one of the best I have ever had in treatment. I especially want to thank her. During my worst days there my ED was not very nice to you, but you never gave up on me, always pushed me and believed in me. Thank you. I had been to a handful of treatment centers before I entered PDV and they were all right but the problem was I would go be there for a few months and then when I got out, I went right back to my old ways. Puente de Vida is small, it is not a big facility; they really focus on you and your care. Because it is so small it creates a safe environment, I always felt safe there. The therapy and therapists are amazing, never once at other places did I connect all the dots. PDV not only focuses on the ED and getting rid of it but they help you realize the underlying issue and they give you the necessary tools so that when you are done with treatment you can use what you learned so that you can successfully recover. One of the greatest things about PDV, and what I think is the reason why I recovered is that during my entire stay there, they actively communicated with my outside providers so that when I discharged everyone was all on the same place. We even had a few sessions while still in treatment with my outside therapist. I couldn't get away with anything - which is a GOOD thing. And when I discharged my ED couldn't lie to my therapist or doctor because they knew what had been going on the entire time. Being held accountable is what helped in my recovery. As anyone knows recovering from an ED is not easy and it is easy to slip into old ways quick...because PDV had such great communication with my outside team I had people to hold me accountable - it saved my life. Another great thing is when I stepped down to the partial program, they have a house you can live there are NO CHARGE. I lived there for free, and I was even local to the area and they let me stay there as long as I needed. I was with the other woman in the program who were at that partial level with me and that helped tremendously, they even have a person/staff there at nights so that if you are having a rough night you can talk to them, one of the women who stayed overnight at the house Raquel Ã¢?? was very supportive, very caring, she always made me feel safe yet making sure my ED didn't try to sneak things. That was another huge help that helped me recover in my ED. I also want to send a special thanks to Steve Schaefer L.C.S.W. He spent countless hours with me and my family through individual and family therapy. You are truly dedicated at what you do. You care so much about helping people and anyone who comes across you should be honored to have such a person invested in their well being and quality of care. Thank you for saving my life, my family thanks you too.
Thank you Puente de Vida!!
I wish everyone out there peace, love, happiness, and RECOVERY!!!!!!!
Recovery that will make you sick.
As a former employee, I can testify that not only is this entire program and all of its facilities a complete disaster, but they are completely unsafe. In the six months that I worked fro PDV I watched horrific and unethical behavior that I would not expect from any organization, much less a mental health facility for clients with eating disorders. The Lisann property is absolutely appalling. Leaks and drainage issues caused mold problems that were never fixed during the time I was employed there. To my knowledge from speaking with former co-workers almost a year and a half later, these problems have still not been resolved. Mold contaminated an entire wall and got onto mattresses in the bedrooms. In addition, mold rotted out the cabinets under the bathroom sink, as well as nearly every kitchen cabinet where clients store their food. There were termite problems, which are not uncommon in southern California, but they were never addressed or fixed. These issues were brought up by staff and clients literally on a day-to-day basis and never attended to. Lisann is not a part of the residential facility and therefore does no need to meet the same safety requirements of a medical facility. It is technically a group home where people live with a common goal live, much like a halfway house.
The recovery stories you read in these reviews are real, both good and bad. A handful of people were lucky enough to manage a recovery during their time at PDV; however, this should not be considered the norm. In order to capitalize on these people beyond the money spent on their recoveries in a sub-par facility, the owner of the facility, Steve Schaefer, has enlisted them to write reviews to rebut the original negative reviews. While their stories may be genuine to their own personal experience, they are not true to the nature and dynamic of Puente de Vida. The majority of clients did not fare as well as the ones who have written here. In general, you may notice on other forums and reviews that even when a program doesn't work for someone, they do not rip is apart and say vicious things about the place. This is not the case for PDV. There are strong reactions to this treatment center for a reason. The "body work" they talk about is controversial at best and is not an actual evidenced based therapeutic practice. It borders on suggestive memory techniques similar to the ones that are often the basis of malpractice lawsuits in unethical hypnosis. My personal opinion of seeing this "therapy" is that it is extremely suggestive and retraumatizes clients who experience it, in addition to those who witness it.
Steve Schaefer, LCSW, refers to himself as an expert in the field of eating disorders; however, please note he is not published in the area at all, nor is he published an any reputable journal or contributed so much as a thesis to the field of psychology. As someone who holds a higher degree than him and is published in multiple clinical, social, and general scholarly journals, I believe that I am a fair judge of what the broad field of psychology considers "expertise." Steve Schaefer does not qualify as an expert in anything related to psychology or mental health. Not to be understated, he has a degree in social work and licensed in the state of California for practicing clinical social work. However, this speaks to his limited credibility, as he holds not higher degree or any published research. In fact, as an employee I overheard him speak to doctors and medical facilities referring to himself as Dr. Schaefer, which is not only unethical, but illegal.
I hope this review is helpful to people looking for a place to recover. There are many wonderful places to get the help you need. Many of them are located in southern California. PDV is not one of these places.
Quality Care & Recovery Program for Eating Disorders.
When my husband and I came to the realization that it was necessary to place our daughter in a residential treatment center for her eating disorder, the biggest question in our minds was “With the many choices available to us, which center will provide the best care with the best potential for our daughter’s recovery?” Our daughter’s physician, Dr. Tyson, and our local healthcare providers recommended several Eating Disorder centers. Puenta De Vida (PDV) was a recommendation offered by both Dr. Tyson and our local healthcare team. After much research, soul-searching, and prayer, we decided to entrust our daughter to the team at Puenta De Vida. Natalie Signorelli at PDV was a great asset in coordinating our daughter’s insurance coverage, admission date, and travel arrangements. She patiently accepted our numerous phone calls, knowledgeably answered the numerous questions and concerns we had, and even personally met our daughter at the San Diego airport.
The treatment team at PDV was, to say the least, excellent! I personally have been a healthcare provider in a hospital for over 30 years, so I have a good understanding of everything that is required of a healthcare facility. The program at PDV is structured, organized, well-planned and efficient, AND it adheres to the stringent regulations that are required for healthcare facilities. Yes, there are rules and guidelines that the patients, staff, and any visitors have to follow on a daily basis. However, these rules and guidelines are in place for the patients’ benefit, care, and well-being. Patient safety, patient privacy and confidentiality, and, most importantly, QUALITY PATIENT CARE and RECOVERY are the priorities at PDV at all times. The majority of the patients that arrive at PDV are in critical condition from their eating disorder by the time they are admitted to PDV. As with our daughter, they have battled their eating disorder and eating disorder-associated complications for years without success. The Treatment Team at PDV consists of eating disorders specialists – physicians, counselors, dieticians, social workers, nurses, and other professionals – all working together in seamless continuity to guide the patient toward successful recovery. The Treatment Team at PDV TREATS the ENTIRE PATIENT and focuses on HEALING the ENTIRE PATIENT, not just the “eating disorder”. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to visit for two separate 1-week portions of our daughter’s stay at PDV. We participated in numerous group sessions and family sessions. We had meals with our daughter, during which we learned meal-support techniques. To say the least, we were impressed! We learned SO much during our visits and during our daughter’s treatment stay at PDV. Steve and Dana Schaefer, along with the entire PDV staff, are awesome! They have been blessed with tremendous talent for helping individuals with eating disorders, and the families of these individuals, in their healing process. Because of the care and treatment received at Puenta De Vida, our daughter has a new beginning on her future and her life. I would highly recommend this facility to anyone seeking help and recovery from an eating disorder, whether it is for themself or for a loved one. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU to Steve, Dana, and the entire Treatment Team at Puenta De Vida!
EB in Louisiana
Expert Dedicated Care - Ever Grateful.
My daughter entered Puente De Vida in December of 2011 after suffering from ED for ten years.
At admission, she had been told by her physician Dr. Edward Tyson an expert in these devastating illnesses in Austin, Texas, that she was 2 months from death as her internal organs had begun to shut down. A very horrifying and serious time in our lives.
I am grateful every day that my daughter was fortunate enough to experience the expert care that has been provided by Steve Schaefer, his daughter Dana Schaefer and the caring and knowledgeable staff of experts at Puente De Vida.
This facility is housed in a small, intimate setting which facilitates the almost one on one care that is not common in treatment centers for ED throughout the country.
The program focus initially is in stabilizing the patient; insuring that their specific nutritional needs are met.
Through a very structured program that includes daily group sessions and individualized sessions with a variety of ED educated staff members, physicians, and nutritional guidance and support; my daughter has been able to transform her initial precarious health and is due to return home at the end of this month.
The experts at Puente De Vida has been right there every day for my daughter through the hard fight for her survival against ED. The support that comes from this structured and caring environment has given my daughter the greatest gift of all - herself.
Steve Schaefer who leads the team is considered to be one of the top Trauma Expert Facilitators in the nation. He has been available to our family through weekly family sessions and group sessions on site. Mr. Schaefer has provided his expert guidance in getting to the core issues that have haunted my daughter for years and brought these to "light" diminishing the hidden secrets that have enabled ED to gain some much power in her life.
My daughter has now taken back her own power through the tools that she has learned at Puente De Vida and is so much stronger in her recovery from ED.
I am personally, eternally grateful, for the gracious assistance and support that the team at Puente De Vida have provided to me in working with myself and the insurance company. Through all the ups and downs of ever changing coverage or lack there of, these dedicated people have been so generous to my family. My daughters health and well being has always remained at the forefront of their focus regardless of the updated coverage of the moment with the insurer's.
Specialized, unique, expert, caring, focused, dedicated, remarkable result oriented healing are words that come to mind when reviewing my family's experience at Puente De Vida.
Grateful, thankful, blessed, ED educated, tool oriented, coping skilled and finally after so many years of suffering...hopeful in recovery are the words that come to mind when reviewing the gifts received from Puente De Vida.
Many blessings to each of the wonderful selfless staff of dedicated individuals at Puente de Vida who fight the fight against ED each day of their lives so that others might move forward in theirs in recovery.
Lone Star Mom
A place to recover.
Please anyone who has an eating disorder please do not base where to go to treatment from a review site. You should speak to the facilities yourself and make an informed decision. This is not like picking a movie or a restaurant to go to this is a very serious decision and most of the time when people write reviews about something like this it is in a time that they are upset. So please take everything into account and not just the ranting’s of people who may not be in a good place emotionally. However if this is the only resource you have then let me explain why I think this is a great place to go.
1. Puente De Vida is a small facility. This allows for many benefits such as the ability to focus on the individual rather than having to deal with the masses. It allows for the residents to become close and support each other. It allows the staff to supervise the patients thoroughly to help prevent behavior that is unhealthy and that encourages the eating disorder.
2. The facility has highly qualified staff from every discipline to effectively treat the whole patient. Including nutritional restoration, psychiatric evaluation , nursing staff to monitor the patient’s health at all times, a nurse practitioner to oversee the medical progression of health, and of course a full staff of licensed therapists that guide the patients through intense group and individual therapy sessions.
3. The staff fights the insurance companies to try to keep the patients until the patient and the whole treatment team feels the patient is ready to go home.
4. There is a very strict schedule to provide structure and stability in a time in our life that is chaos.
These points and many more make this an effective facility for recovery . I entered PDV in December of 2007 and left in March of 2008. I was fifteen at the time and traveled a long way from my home in Texas. I was in a terrible emotional state at the time and was fully immersed in my eating disorder. Today five years later I am fully immersed in recovery I am happily married I am a Licensed Nurse with a full time Job and can live a full happy and functional life. This full turnaround of my life is largely due to the fact that I was fortunate enough to spend time in a facility like this one. The strengths of residential programs are numerous and this facility truly exemplifies these strengths.
This is a place that if you follow the rules, you trust the treatment team, are ready to recover and work as hard as you can you will find your way to recovery and that should be your goal. If you want an easy time, do not want to dig deep or work on your real issues and want to just go in and put a band aide on then this is not the right place. Of course you won’t always get along with all the therapists it is not their job to be your friend it is their job to help you get better and that is what they do best.
This is the only facility that I have ever been to so there may be others out there that are also effective but I do know that this place really does provide what it takes to find your way to recovery.
I went to Puente de Vida from February 2011 to June 2011. I am from Texas. Going to Puente de Vida was the most important decision of my life and turned out to be the greatest and most valuable experience. I am beyond grateful to the entire staff. Steve did my intake and spent hours listening to my story and figuring out the treatment I needed. Through body work therapy, he helped other women identify their traumas that have been suppressed for years. I have heard from many women that he is the best trauma therapist in the nation and one of the few who uses body work. Dana holds a special place in my heart because she helped with my weekly family therapy and was able to do it all over the phone since my parents couldn’t afford to travel numerous times to San Diego. I trusted her and went to her with all my struggles. I appreciated her time, attentiveness, care, sense of humor, and ways to explain things so I could understand them. Outings were also very fun with her! I would not be here without them, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
To recover from an eating disorder, someone needs treatment 24/7. ED doesn’t rest; he is even present in your dreams. He greedily awaits any moment when you will be vulnerable. I was lucky to spend 3 months in residential treatment at PDV. I was moved down to PHP and IOP when they felt I was ready, otherwise they fought for my insurance company to pay for what I needed, and I am grateful for that.
PDV is so special because it is run by a family that is 100% dedicated to its patients, their family members, and their futures, ones without ED. They are all intimately involved. I have nothing but good things to say about PDV. Those, like me, who have completed their treatment and are in a good spot in recovery today will have the same positive feedback. PDV has changed our lives. I have met lifelong best friends who are amazing women. I know what FREEDOM tastes like and I fight for it every day in recovery. After peeling back layers and layers of what life has thrown at me I have uncovered the true me again. I have gained priceless skills to help me beat ED, for life, and to pass on. What I learned in treatment is beyond anything and far more important than anything I would learn in college. I learned what there needs to be more of in the world today. I’ve gained empathy and awareness. I know longer believe that I am unlovable, ugly, a failure, undeserving, etc. I am more powerful than my thoughts now!
No one choices to have an eating disorder, but I encourage you to choose recovery starting at PDV, health, hope, and freedom.
eating disorder center of fresno and Puente de vida are run by the same owner, STEVE! look it up!
As a former employee I will tell you to send your child anywhere but here. I know we dont have any eating disorder treatment centers in the central valley, but PLEASE then send your child some where out of town. The person who owns this place, Steve, is a lunatic! He will try and pressure you into having your loved one start right now! Even before he gets insurance authorization. He will tell you " oh its all worked out" when really they are waiting to hear approval from the case manager. Working as his assistant, I can tell you that his policy is;
"if they end up not being approved we will just invoice them for the amount of time they were here".
Also- if you are approved for example: "2 weeks of
IOP," they will then fight for more time at the end of your two weeks, where the therapists will have to show improvement etc, but sometimes the insurance companies will just drop you out of no where. Well when that happens, "oh so caring" Steve will then tell you to get out asap! Your teenage girl will have to move her things out immediately in front of her roommates ( which is great for the self esteem of a girl already going through soo much).
I am telling you all of this in case you want to have someone be a patient there.
- As an employee I resigned after 4 months ( like soo many others) he was an absolute terror to work for. He would have these staff meetings where we all sat in a circle and he would bring something up that happened and say " well so and so said you did this, what do you think about that?" and try and make people fight each other in front of everyone else! He would constantly call and yell at you or simply hang up on you in the middle of a convo. I watched him laugh at another patient when she was crying because he was making a joke out of a memory that made her feel horrible. I would never work there again if you paid me a million dollars, nor would i want my loved ones to put me in that mans hands for my well being.
Horrible, run away from Puente de Vida.
Puente de vida could have destroyed my family. Thank God I left. Stephen Schaeffer planted false memories that I was molested by a family member-completely untrue. It was like being in a cult. My family and I spent a fortune on my treatment because I was desperate to get well. I believe the idea was to keep me "sick" so that I stayed, and he made money. He is completely controlling.
I am now in a program at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest. They saved my life. Thank you.
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