MEMPHIS, Tenn (localmemphis.com) - The Local-I Team has uncovered disturbing treatments by a Mid-South doctor. We've learned the woman is a Germantown psychiatrist who had her license suspended for whipping patients and comparing them to mules. According to state officials her actions are a violation of the Tennessee Medical Practice Act.
The Tennessee Department of Health suspended Valerie Louise Augustus' medical license because of her treatment towards multiple patients in 2015.
Augustus owns and operates Christian Psychiatrist Services in Germantown however she is not currently in the office. Visit the practice's website and you'll find Augustus is on personal leave.
The site states, "Dr. Augustus will be out of the office on personal leave as of JUNE 2nd, 2018. Notice letters and phone calls have been and are still being sent out to all active patients to inform them of the break. During this period, the staff at Christian Psychiatric Services will still be working hard in the office to ensure that patients are well taken care of. In the interim, we are advising patients to see their Primary Care Physician and request that he or she authorize refills of your active prescriptions. We will notify patients of our re-opening."
State health department documents obtained by the Local I-Team show Augustus whipped mental health patients with "a riding crop, whips, and other objects" back in 2015.
One of the patients identified as P.T. came to Augustus for treatment for depression. Investigators said on July 20, 2015 the patient was "hit on the buttocks with a riding crop." That crop and whip where reportedly on display in her office.
In the state's report investigators noted this type of treatment was inappropriate, stating, "There is no evidence in any psychiatric literature to support the use of whipping patients for treatment."
On Augustus' website, Augustus takes a holistic approach to mental health. "Dr. Augustus emphasizes a healthy diet and regular physical activity, while optionally integrating her spiritual beliefs and principles into each patient's healing process."
During a hearing in Nashville, attorney Paetria Morgan told the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners Augustus "hit her patients because they failed to lose weight and adhere to her recommendations."
The Local I-Team spoke with neighbors who said they are in disbelief.
"She always kept to herself," said Kaye Borgognoni. " I didn't want to believe that anybody in the health care industry would do that. In my 39 years of nursing I've never heard of anything like that before occurring. It seems like cruelty."
"She deserved to have her license suspended," said Nicholas Evans.
Augustus' license will be suspended for no less than 60 days, according to state documents. She must then enroll and complete a two-day medical ethics course and undergo a mental evaluation. If her license is then reinstated, she will be on probation for three years.