Sunday, December 28, 2008

Money doesn't talk, it swears: why GA is privatizing its mental health public hospitals

"....State officials are negotiating an agreement that would forestall a lawsuit charging Georgia with violating patients civil rights.Similar investigations in other states have led to massive spending to upgrade or replace hospitals.....

The winning bidder would take over forensics units at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville within another 60 days and would be required to open a new building in about a year.The state hospital in Savannah would close by July 2009, followed in 2011 by the Columbus facility and in 2012 by hospitals in Rome, Thomasville and Augusta, as well as all units except forensics at Milledgeville.The replacement for the Atlanta hospital for patients from North Georgia would open by early 2012...."


GA is evidently privatizing its psychiatric hospitals in order to avoid dealing w/ this matter. It would be very interesting to understand this matter more in-depth.

What do you bet but that the fast-track schedule is related to the law-suit(s) associated w/ violating patient's rights?

(cut and paste):

Next, instead of consulting firms running one of the four public psychiatric hospitals, like Cherry Hospital, serving 36 NC counties (over one-third of the 100 NC counties), we'll be hearing about the privatization of the psychiatric hospitals-----what with the likes of these kinds of testimonies:

(cut and paste):

Cherry Hospital's troubles await Perdue
Abuse of patients plagues hospital
by Michael Biesecker

".....Federal regulators cut off Medicaid money to the hospital in September after declaring it unsafe for patients. Jack St. Clair, Cherry's director for the past three years, resigned earlier this month, and the hospital is being run largely by a consulting firm. Cherry drew national media attention this fall after the forced release of security camera footage documenting the last day in the life of Steven H. Sabock, a patient, in April.

In the past year, at least 10 Cherry employees have been charged with assaulting or sexually abusing patients. In November, two health-care technicians were convicted of beating a patient who mouthed off. At their trial, a state prosecutor characterized Cherry as a violent place where staff members have long believed they would not be held accountable for abusing or neglecting patients.....

after Sabock choked on medication, hit his head and was left sitting in a chair for 22 hours without food, water or medical attention, Cherry administrators sent out an urgent internal memo.

"We are a REAL HOSPITAL," it reminded the workers, pleading with them to perform routine medical tasks required of them......

Ultimately, St. Clair, who supervised the supervisors, could not change the culture.

"I think he was in over his head," said William O. Mann III, a former Cherry psychiatrist. "He was really put into a situation he had no familiarity with. Nor would any hospital administrator. They needed expert advice right off the bat on how to prosecute the abusers and get rid of them."

Mann, whose experience included stints at two state mental hospitals in Pennsylvania, said he saw more cases of patient abuse in the 14 months he worked at Cherry than in the rest of his career. He resigned in disgust in late 2006, after he said he reported a dozen cases of staff members abusing patients but saw little come of his efforts......

Brenda Johnson, a nurse who retired after working at Dorothea Dix Hospital and in the state prison system, took a temporary job at Cherry four years ago. She said the violence got worse during St. Clair's tenure. But she stressed that the assaults went both ways -- with staff working in fear of patients who are increasingly desperate and harder to handle.

On Dec. 9, a male patient attacked Johnson, punching her and choking her for nearly half a minute before other employees could pull him off.

"When I walked on the ward that night, I felt like it was like a volcano waiting to erupt," said Johnson, 65. "The man tried to kill me. I honestly felt safer working with death row inmates than I did working at Cherry Hospital."

......Since Sabock's death, administrators have hurried to squelch rumors circulating around Goldsboro that Cherry would be shut down. The hospital is a major job-generator in Wayne County, having employed generations of local families.

Low pay for employees in state mental hospitals has long been an impediment to attracting top-quality staff. Dempsey Benton, the secretary of health and human services, asked the state personnel office last summer to consider raising salaries for health-care technicians and other low-ranking positions where high turnover is common.

Becoming a health-care tech requires no special certification beyond a high school diploma or GED. Starting pay is $11.42 an hour and doesn't get much better with years of experience. About a third of those hired quit within the first year......

Harold Carmel, a consulting professor of psychiatry at Duke University and a critic of the state's mental health reforms, said the state should consider having East Carolina University manage the hospital and its clinical operations.

"I think it's an obvious solution that has been overlooked," he said......

Close connections are good for both universities and hospitals, Saeed said. The university benefits from expanded teaching opportunities, and state hospital patients get cutting-edge treatment and high-quality care. Any proposal to have ECU run Cherry would require close study and approval from the chancellor, Saeed said...."


Post a Comment

<< Home