Guest opinion: Mind Springs working to address quality of mental health care concerns
The need for behavioral health services is growing in Colorado, now more than ever. For all of us in this industry, we know that there is a need for behavioral health care reform in Colorado.
The system is far from perfect. Community Mental Health Centers are far from perfect. However, throwing daggers at nonprofit organizations that are the safety net for vulnerable populations, those who are suffering from mental illness and addiction, is not the solution.
Disparaging articles will adversely impact those who are in need of help, as they may be reluctant to seek services from what may be their only source of hope. The negative media rhetoric also undermines and demotivates a workforce dedicated to saving lives.
In April 2021, Rocky Mountain Health Plans conducted a review of medical records for 112 members who received services from Mind Springs Health or West Springs Hospital. The review was based on concerns about prescribing practices and protocols with benzodiazepines and resulted in a corrective action plan to address safety concerns surrounding the prescription of benzodiazepines. The 17-point plan has been fully implemented.
We recognize that there was a need to enhance our policies and procedures for prescribing benzodiazepines. I am pleased that in the past nine months, there have been significant safety enhancements made to our prescribing protocols.
Rocky Mountain Health Plans review also found that from July 1, 2018, to December 15, 2021, there were 472 quality-of-care concerns — 251 of which had some validity and 68 found to have severe risks.
Quality-of-care concerns are events that might result in harm to a patient or to the quality of a patient’s care. These events include patients’ complaints, self-harm, deaths, non-compliance with treatment, medical complications and medication errors. Quality-of-care concerns can be due to facility-related causes, but they may also be a result over an event the facility has little to no control of, such as an illness that was contracted prior to admission to the hospital.
During this same time period, our organization saw a client count of nearly 30,000 and provided more than 760,000 services to these clients. Quality-of-care concerns posing to have “severe risks” were less than a quarter of 1% of the overall care provided.
We absolutely have to be the best at what we do. One person at risk is one person too many. We are audited on a regular basis, and we value the input we receive from the state entities we work with, as well as Rocky Mountain Health Plans. By working together, we’re able to continue to improve processes.
In the past three months, three members of our executive team have resigned or retired for personal reasons. We are taking advantage of the changes in our leadership to restructure our management team, while also examining policies and procedures to create enhance quality and access to care. We have also recently retained an outside consultant to help support our internal quality and compliance department.
In the weeks ahead, Signet Health, the largest behavioral health consulting firm in the United States (working with more than 75 hospitals in 30-plus states), will begin a three-year contract with West Springs Hospital to help guide the organization in meeting regulatory requirements, efficiently managing operations and creating discharge/case management plans, all while ensuring that quality of care remains the top priority.
At the end of the day, we all want the best care for our communities. Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital are committed to providing the best care possible going forward, with honesty and integrity.
My door is always open, and questions are welcome.
Doug Pattison is interim CEO for Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital. 970-683-7150