Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Connect-the-dots: lack of emergency mental health services leads to mentally ill woman shooting sheriff in neck

Assaulted sheriff can thank Governor Easley and DHHS for being attacked by mentally ill woman

The Burke County sheriff who was shot in the neck by a woman who was to be involuntarily committed is part of the ‘connect-the-dots’ picture associated with mental health defunding by the Easley administration.

Last week, Governor Easley alluded to his desire to ‘re-centralize’ mental health, blaming the problems mostly on the LME’s. DHHS sets the guidelines for the LME’s and so if there are problems w/ the LME’s (the old community mental health centers who morphed into merely administrative centers for services), then DHHS has created the problems.

In April, 2007, Carmen Hooker Odom, DHHS Secretary, appointed by Easley, blamed private providers, the Endorsed Provider companies providing Community Support Services (CSS), for spending too much money and initiated post-payment reviews of providers commonly associated with missing paperwork.

CSS are services associated with everything from emergency mental health services (such as would have been needed by the woman who shot the deputy in the neck) to skill building.
Endorsed Provider (private) companies struggle to maintain a business in the face of first, throwing money at the problem (in 2006), without training or pointers about what is expected from DHHS and/ or the LME’s, and it is simply no surprise that not only is Broughton Hospital closed for new Medicare and Medicaid patients but that emergency rooms are full of sheriffs standing around mentally ill patients tied down on gurneys for dozens of hours at a time while no psychiatric beds are available.

The BLAME needs to be laid right at the door of the governor as he is the person who appoints the secretary of DHHS. While Hooker Odom resigned in August, 2007, Dempsey Benton, the new secretary, has been the recipient of a nightmarishly run business.


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