New Mind Springs CEO talks priorities with Glenwood council

Cassandra Ballard
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Mind Springs Health’s Garfield County office.
Archive photo

Mind Springs will be opening a detox facility in Glenwood Springs, and some innovation might relieve some concerns.

After the mental-health facility received some unfavorable media attention, they hired a new CEO and plan to move forward showing their strengths by example.

“Put it mildly, we’ve had some bad press recently,” said John Sheehan, the new CEO for Mind Springs.

He has been in his position for a little more than a month and wants to look to the future of Mind Springs instead of the past. 

“I know you’re being modest when you say that you have some bad press,” said Council Member Tony Hershey. “What are you doing to sort of right the ship?”

Sheehan said his first task has been to understand compliance issues and the details of it. He is focused on finding what the company is doing well, and he wants to redirect what is not doing well. 

He said he’s also diving into the detail of compliance issues that state agencies, funders and constituents have and working on perceptions in these communities. 

“We had a tri-agency audit that we recently completed a corrective action plan for, and that was accepted by all three of the agencies that conducted that,” Sheehan said. “We have a number of areas of compliance that we’re specifically working on to improve over the next six months, and we’re being monitored by those three agencies.”

Digital Health is the main strength he said he can bring to the table to accommodate the possibility of staff shortages. 

“Digital health is a really big way for us to increase access and improve recruitment,” he said. “Coming into Mind Springs, it’s really going to have to be a mix of what we’ve traditionally done in serving the communities, but then also looking to technology to help us really improve access and performance.”

Another goal Sheehan is aiming for is boosting quality and figuring out how to get patients from their lowest point to beneficial wellness and figuring out how to measure and report that for their constituents. 

“Right now, we’re not doing a great job with that,” he said. “That’s something that I think is going to take some time to fix. And, it’s going to require a strategy, and it’s going to require a lot of change. We’re just at the beginning of that.” 

Making staff feel valued is another priority for the CEO. 

“It’s not easy to work for an employer that’s been under the kind of criticism that we’ve been getting,” Sheehan said. “There’s dedicated people working in Mind Springs, so I really tried to spend some time with the team making them feel valued and making sure that they have what they need to maintain a good work life balance.”

Pro Tem mayor Charlie Willman apologized for his bluntness but asked, “Why should we trust you running that program for us?”

“I have a track record,” Sheehan said. “I’ve been doing this a while, and I’ve been in a number of different positions where it’s usually a turnaround. It’s kind of my thing. I’ve taken organizations that were struggling and taken them to a place where they weren’t struggling anymore, and, in fact, they were innovating.”

He said he was recruited for a long time before he took the job. He said that there was a time when he was reading the headlines, wondering what would happen to the organization. 

“I wanted to come back to an organization like Mind Springs because I really believe in community mental health,” Sheehan said. 

He said he wants to make sure each community and facility is treated accordingly and then he wants to make sure he has a community feedback loop of communication.

“I think that a lot of criticism of Mind Springs has been that we run things out of Grand Junction and we’re really not community focused,” Sheehan said. “A lot of what I’ve been trying to do is be present in every community and really start to understand the local politics of those communities and what the needs are.”

For Glenwood Springs, he knows that one main priority is to increase mental-health resources for youth and adolescents. He also plans to employ new tools into Glenwood Springs including a detox facility and technology.

“The detox will be successful. It’s something that we’re committed to,” he said. “It’s something that as a CEO, I came in and said, ‘This is something that we have to do. This is something we have to do right.’ And, it will involve technology. The idea that any part of healthcare today is not going to involve technology, particularly in a rural community, that’s just the way it is today.”


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