Monday, December 22, 2008

Director of Mental Health issues at the Carter Center weighs in re: GA mental health reform : TIP: private psychiatric beds won't work

This is what seems to be working in NC as re: psychiatric hospitalization...after almost 8 years of trying to put things together:

The state DHHS or DHR (GA) pays pays for the psychiatric beds as associated w/ a small behavioral health unit at a local hospital----thus keeping the patients close to their families, therapists, etc.-----and as per NC State Senator Martin Nesbitt, Medicaid has been found to kick in about 2/3 of the cost of the hospital bed cost fairly quickly. Senator Nesbitt spoke this past week to the Buncombe county (Asheville, NC) NAMI meeting. See my blog for an outline of that speech, specifically, this post:


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Local hospital psychiatric beds saves $$; diminishes admissions at state psych hosp; keeps patients close to home: WIN. WIN. WIN.

Haywood Regional Hospital just opened up a Behavioral Health unit. This was put together by Smoky Mountain Center (SMC) LME and in particular was headed up by the very excellent Doug Trantham of SMC LME. ....

NC State Senator Martin Nesbitt, indicated last night at the Buncombe NAMI meeting, that there is clearly a distinct need for psychiatric hospital beds which are community based and that the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), of which he is co-chair along w/ Verla Insko, are moving funding forward for this to take place across NC. He stated last night that the state legislature is 'paying for these beds', also commenting that as Medicaid kicks in for the people who are patients in these beds, it becomes evident that state $$$ have to pay for "5 out of 15 of the beds."


Creating a small number of beds in local hospitals allows the state to:

1. address the issue of emergency psychiatric services

2. keep the patients close to home, important as re: rural areas, thus diminishing cost also at the level of transportation by sheriff's departments who are ill trained to work w/ these people at this point in time don't pay for 20 years worth of private psychiatric hospitals whose agenda is to get people out as quickly as possible.


GA better understand what in the world they are up against.

(cut and paste):

Thomas Bornemann is director of the mental health program at The Carter Center.

"Georgia continues to experience the effects of a mental health system that is tragically broken. Georgia Department of Human Resources’ (DHR) has responded with some new proposals, one of which is privatizing and downsizing state mental hospitals.

In their 2007 series “A Hidden Shame,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Andy Miller and Alan Judd exposed 115 suspicious deaths in Georgia state mental hospitals from 2002-2006, and even while the state of Georgia was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for that, the reporters found that the number of questionable deaths as a result of abuse, neglect and poor medical care climbed to 136. ...

Privatization is a tactic done in the service of reform and should not be viewed in and of itself as a broad strategy. The issues associated with hospitals are part of a larger systemic problem. The system is under-funded, fragmented and plagued by serious service delivery gaps..........

.....The proposal is expensive. While private companies may pay construction costs up front, Georgia taxpayers will pay for those costs (plus profits) for the private companies over the next 20 years.

This time of crisis calls for a new way of doing business that opens the doors to policy-making through optimal transparency and public engagement. The DHR must do a better job of soliciting public comment, especially by those most affected —- consumers, families, and mental health professionals —- before decisions are made, not after.

The recent settlement between Georgia and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights in the Olmstead case requires that the state involve consumers and advocates in “planning how best to provide adequate community services that will meet the needs of all Georgians.” A great deal can be learned from their experiences.

Georgia will be better equipped to address its mental health crisis through an inclusive, deliberative process that involves consumers, families and other key stakeholders, rather than the current rush to privatize. We cannot ask for less for those with mental illnesses who have been entrusted to the state for safe, humane and appropriate care........."


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