A government review released Thursday concluded that Mind Springs, the beleaguered community mental health provider in 10 Colorado counties, will have to change how it prescribes potentially dangerous drugs and do more to ensure local needs are met.
In a briefing for officials and reporters at Western Slope Thursday, directors of three government agencies outlined a plan to improve care in Mind Springs, which is responsible for mental health services in Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco, Root and Summit counties. It operates outpatient clinics and West Springs Hospital.
The 22-page audit report Compiled by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.
Found Mind Springs, theme A A series of investigative reports By Colorado News Collaborative, no prescription practices have been identified that could put patients at risk for overdose.
The Department of Healthcare Policy and Finance, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, will require Mind Springs to use a tool intended to report risky prescribing decisions. He also commissioned Mind Springs to change its board of directors to better reflect the community; attempt to fill clinical vacancies; Providing services in Spanish. Keep track of whether people who ask for help actually receive it; Develop a plan to bridge any gaps between the services provided by the centers and those needed by their communities.
CEO Kim Bimestefer said the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance found that Mind Springs was following state financial reporting rules, but those rules did not guarantee good service to communities and were being updated.
“We need Mind Springs to be successful,” she said. “It has improved, but there is a lot of work to be done.”
Mind Springs officials, who received the results about two hours before the public disclosure, did not respond publicly Thursday.
The Office of Behavioral Health, of the Colorado Department of Human Services, found that Mind Springs did not always report harm to patients immediately; may not have obtained clients’ input into their care plans; You have not set clear goals for treatment; has not properly assessed the level of care clients need; And it fails to meet other requirements that document customer care and progress. She stated that Mind Springs had already addressed most of her concerns.
The audit portion of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment looked at whether Mind Springs had failed to protect patients’ rights. You did not find enough evidence to draw conclusions.
The agencies reported that it I decided to do a joint review After hearing concerns from local leaders and receiving 47 complaints about Mind Springs following a separate investigation in the spring of 2021. Bimestefer said it was not satisfied with Mind Springs’ response to their concerns last year, but the interim CEO and new board members appear committed. make changes.
“It’s much easier to tackle something when you have a willing partner,” she said.
The latest audit came after several years of growing concerns about Mind Springs. Peak and Eagle counties are Termination of their contracts with Mind Springs setting up their own mental health center due to concerns about the lack of transparency around the organization’s use of taxpayer money; widespread mistrust in their communities; An alleged refusal to send response workers to help people in crises. Mind Springs said it must go through a “delicate balance” to ensure the safety of its workers.
In April 2021, a whistleblower sounded alarms about Potentially unsafe recipes In Mind Springs. Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which has a state contract to administer Medicaid benefits in western Colorado, found that some patients received high doses of drugs that could cause an overdose, even if they had a history of addiction or were at risk of suicide. A broader review in December found potentially dangerous medical decisions in 128 out of 472 medical records.
The December review also found that people in need are struggling to get appointments. Clients were disproportionately likely to be hospitalized, but less likely to receive follow-up care than other areas; Mind Springs leadership did not have a plan to address the vulnerabilities in the services; Its board of directors did not represent the community.
The state health department launched a separate investigation in June, after a complaint that the West Springs Hospital Board of Directors were not ensuring patients received quality care. The department was not able to determine whether or not this occurred, but discovered that the hospital was not properly assessing patients when they arrived or linking them to follow-up care when they left. It also found problems getting patients out of hospital again after another complaint in February.
Bemstiver said some of the concerns about Mind Springs reflect problems in the entire behavioral health system. Clients and former employees of other mental health centers also have them You mentioned long waiting times for servicesand that some centers have staff working with groups they are not trained to deal with, such as children or people with addictions.
Bimestefer said a combination of mental health billing at this hearing, increased federal and state funding for care, plans to write performance requirements in center contracts, and centralization of work in the new Behavioral Health Department will help increase access to services and improve accountability. .
“There has never been a transformation like this,” she said.