by Max Brantley
The State Hospital has received a consultant's reports on deficiencies at the hospital and recommendations for curing them. Here's the full report.
My question: Sounds like we're late to the dance on accountability. From the report summary:
ASH has not been adequately managed for many years—a result of unqualified executives and poor governance practices. These conditions led to cultural and programmatic deficiencies that resulted in a failure to comply with the CoPs [conditions for permission to participate in Medicaid] or with good hospital management and clinical practice.
... At the time of the survey, this high number of deficiencies was not surprising to the new management of ASH or the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The CEO and the interim director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services (Governing Body chair) are new to their positions and are well-aware of the seriousness and breadth of the problem. It is our belief that their fresh approach will be an asset in implementing changes.
Additionally, the staff and current management are committed to bringing the hospital into compliance, with the recognition that this will involve making major changes both operationally and culturally. ...
So. Everybody knew the operation was deficient but nothing happened until the feds threatened to take the money away? Governor? Director of DHS? Legislative oversight committees? Anybody?
Meanwhile, here's the state's plan for improving the hospital. First step, naturally, is to hire a consultant. Also: Shuffle the deck chairs by firing former leaders and hiring new ones. There will be meetings. There will be new organizational structures. There will be new communications. They will implement "best practices." They'll take better care to keep confidential records confidential. And about the unit for children who have both mental illness and development disabilities. The state says it:
* Froze admissions of youth to the unit and developed placement and discharge plans for most of the youth who were on that unit.
* [Is] Exploring other placement options as well as possible systemic changes in how dually-diagnosed children with acute needs receive treatment.
So they're going to shut a unit for kids with profound needs and explore what to do with them. Meanwhile .....
I know the State Hospital carries one of the most difficult burdens dumped in the state's lap. But an obvious failure to act on shortcomings over a period of years is a damning assessment.