Saturday, January 17, 2009

72-Hour Observations

Weekend Psych News

Proposed cuts draw fire in Virginia
Virginia's Department of Mental Health wants to save $16 million by closing some of the state's psychiatric centers. But the legislature isn't going along quietly. Read about the heated debate at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

New psych hospital focuses on moving from intensive care to community life
Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio unveiled a shiny new 15-bed psychiatric unit on Thursday. This is the first psych facility in Butler County and will focus its energy on moving its patients back into the community. Read more about it at the Oxford Press.

Cheerleader mom sent to psychiatric hospital
The Green Bay, Wisconsin mother who tried out for cheerleading under her daughter's name has been sent to a psychiatric hospital for three years in lieu of jail time for identity theft. Read more about it at MSNBC.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Georgia reaches agreement with feds

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced yesterday that his state has reached an agreement with the Justice Department to overhaul patient care seven state psychiatric hospitals.
The agreement, which still needs judicial approval, covers almost every area of patient care:
  • Incident reviews and investigations
  • Treatment planning
  • Seclusion and restraint protocols
  • Medical and nursing care
  • Discharge planning
The tentative agreement also calls for the state to develop new suicide risk assessment tools to prevent patient suicides. They are also to examine approaches to deter assaultive behavior.
As discussed on this blog, Georgia has been under intense scrutiny after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation uncovered 136 deaths and nearly 200 cases of patient abuse since 2002. Recently, the state has been exploring privatizing its crumbling public psychiatric hospital system.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Deep problems in the Grand Canyon State

While many of us were sleeping last night, the lines in Arizona's mental health battle were etched deeper into the sand. At issue are the number of patients being un- or under- served by the state's partially privatized system, particularly in Maricopa County. At midnight, the Arizona Republic published a story appearing today, "Audit calls county's mental care worse."

"They've really gone to hell in a handbasket."

Nancy Diggs, court-appointed monitor.

Based on an analysis by court-appointed monitor Nancy Diggs, Magellan Health Services, the company which won the contract in 2007 to manage mental health services in Maricopa County, has failed to meet the needs of 83% of the county's most seriously ill clients. If that weren't damning enough, the report also found three in five patients do not have "an adequate clinical team" and four in five don't even have a completed mental health assessment.

Magellan won their contract promising to clean up the mess left by their predecessor, Value Options .

Among the lightning rods for the current controversy is the case of Joe Gallegos, a longtime mental health client who had been court-ordered into treatment at a Glendale, Arizona clinic. He didn't receive help from Magellan and on December 23, murdered two young boys in a Southwest Phoenix park, beating them to death with a baseball bat.

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