Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Jurist Says Mental Health Support Key To Stemming Mass Killings

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm December 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty said today that the country will not have success in reducing the tragic type of shooting incident that occurred Friday in Connecticut without providing more mental health support.

Hardesty, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said “we’re going backwards” on mental health treatment needs nationally and in Nevada.

Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty.

“It’s high time the country does something about these matters,” he said. “And from the perspective of a judge who has worked hard to, and the judiciary as a whole, worked hard to promote mental health court as an example, we cannot achieve any success in any of these areas if we do not recognize the importance of being proactive in dealing with mental health issues in this country and in this state.

“And yet we’re going backwards,” Hardesty said. “And I hope that these very sad incidents demonstrate the need to revisit these subjects.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, in a report released in November 2011, said there is a national crisis in helping people with serious mental illness due to deep cuts in state spending for mental health services.

“States such as California, Illinois, Nevada and South Carolina, which made devastating cuts to mental health services previously, have made further cuts for fiscal year 2012, putting tens of thousands of citizens at great risk,” the report said.

The NAMI report said states have cut more than $1.6 billion in general funds from their state mental health agency budgets since 2009 while at the same time demand increased significantly.

The state Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services has more than $7 million in general funding spending requests in the state budget “wish list” document released to the public on Friday. Many of the $419 million in total state agency general fund requests included on the list are not expected to see funding due to a lack of tax revenue.

One of the mental health requests is for nearly $200,000 for a clinical program manager and training for a new program to provide a continuum of care for clients reentering the community when being released from jails, prisons and forensic hospitals.

In his NewsMakers comments, Hardesty said the 2nd Amendment and gun control debate is a separate issue.

But the perpetrators of many of these terrible incidents are afflicted with serious mental health issues that require a proactive society, he said. Families who struggle with family members who suffer from such illnesses need help and support, Hardesty said.

Nevadans don’t have to look to Connecticut to see the problem, he said, citing the Carson City incident in September 2011 where a man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle shot five uniformed National Guard members eating breakfast at a restaurant, killing three and another person before shooting himself.

The shooter, Eduardo Sencion of Carson City, suffered from mental health issues and was on medication. He left no note or explanation for the shootings.

“So I hope that it causes us, as a society, to look at what will help be proactive and achieve some significant changes in those areas,” Hardesty said.

On a positive note, he pointed to the successes of the state’s mental health courts, where the focus is on diverting non-violent offenders with mental illness into treatment programs. The goal is to reduce or eliminate offender recidivism by treating their mental illness.

“And the more we can do to be proactive to support programs like that, the more we’ll do to reduce the risks to our society caused by the Sandy Hook Elementary event,” Hardesty said.

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Audio clips:

Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty says Nevada and the nation are going backwards in support for mental health treatment efforts:

121712Hardesty1 :17 we’re going backwards.”

Hardesty says he hopes the tragic Sandy Hook incident will help lead to more mental health support:

121712Hardesty2 :11 in those areas.”

Hardesty says an investment in mental health support will help reduce the risks of further such incidents:

121712Hardesty3 :13 Hook elementary event.”

 

Acting Administrator Appointed For Nevada State Mental Health Programs

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:01 pm October 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Richard Whitley, administrator of the Nevada State Health Division, has been appointed to serve as acting administrator for the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services.

The appointment by Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, took effect Saturday. Whitley is replacing Dr. Harold Cook, who is retiring after 33 years of state service.

Health Division Administrator Richard Whitley has also been named acting administrator of the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services.

The Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services oversees a public and private network of programs involving mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities. The agency also operates the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas and the Dini-Townsend Psychiatric Hospital and the Lake’s Crossing Center forensic facility in the Reno-Sparks area.

Whitley was previously appointed as administrator of the Nevada State Health Division in January 2008. He led the Health Division through the agency’s regulatory changes that resulted from the hepatitis C outbreak associated with a surgical center in Las Vegas that was identified in 2008.

Whitley began state service as the senior psychologist for the Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility in 1986. A graduate of Willamette University, he holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Western Oregon University. He will continue his role as administrator of the Health Division.

Additionally, Dr. Tracey Green is being appointed as acting medical director for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services. Dr. Green currently serves as the state health officer, providing medical leadership for Nevada’s public health programs, a position she has held since July 2009. She is a board certified family physician and graduate of the University of Nevada, School of Medicine. Dr. Green will also continue in her role with the State Health Division.

“Combining forces with mental health and public health allows us to continue to provide evidence-based and cost-effective treatment spanning a continuum of care for Nevadans whose needs are both mental and physical,” Willden said. “I look forward to continuing the theme of collaboration that we are developing among Nevada’s Health and Human Services agencies.”

A search has been conducted to find a permanent replacement for Cook. Willden said he is evaluating his options.

Questionable Billing, Attendance Problems Costing $2.3 Million Identified In Audits Of Nevada Mental Health Programs

By Sean Whaley | 2:15 pm June 30th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Audits of two state mental health programs reviewed today identified a number of serious findings, from physicians working only a few hours a day to questionable and potentially fraudulent bills for services to the mentally ill.

In one case, the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services is investigating a provider who billed for services to a mentally ill client even though the individual was hospitalized at the time.

Harold Cook, administrator of the agency, said it appears as if there was a “deliberate attempt to deceive us.”

Cook acknowledged that other billings identified in the audit of the residential support programs, where services are provided to mentally ill clients, were “egregious” and “inappropriate.”

The review by the Division of Internal Audits identified numerous cases of questionable expenses, including paying supplemental rent to a client who had spent money on tattoos, $150 biofeedback sessions and $175 on Christmas cards.

The audits were reviewed by the Executive Branch Audit Committee, which includes Gov. Jim Gibbons, the other state constitutional officers and a representative of the public.

Gibbons said the audits show there are people trying to take advantage of the state, and called the findings troubling because they are evidence of a systemic problem.

“And it doesn’t speak well of the people who are submitting the billing or trying to take advantage of the state’s fiscal condition at this point in time,” he said. “The state of Nevada is not for sale. The state of Nevada should not be defrauded.”

In another case cited in the audit, a provider submitted reports that were identical from month to month except for the editing of dates. The same provider showed a charge for 2.5 hours to “meet a client at a restaurant and count change.”

Another provider billed for taking a client on eight-hour bike rides and massage.

Another involved $80 to $105 payments for music therapy with no supporting documentation.

One billing was for more than $1,000 a month on services identified only as, “in home discrete trial.”

Another was for $369 for action lessons with no evidence the service met a client’s needs.

Another case involved a billing from a provider for a client who was missing for over a week.

The claims were approved and paid by the agency with no evidence they were questioned, the audit found.

The audit said the agency could save at least $650,000 a year by clarifying policies for expenditures and improving monitoring. All 11 recommendations were accepted by the agency, although Cook noted in his response that the questionable spending amounts to less than one half of one percent of the $110 million budget for these services.

Cook said there are 5,000 providers, some of whom generate hundreds of bills each month that must be reviewed by staff.

“Sometimes we miss them,” he said.

The second audit reviewed the operations at the agency’s two psychiatric hospitals and 24 out-patient clinics, and found a number of physicians employed by the state were not working full days.

In one case, a doctor who worked at the Rawson-Neal Hospital in Las Vegas averaged two hours a day.

The audit found that on average, none of the doctors, who earn as much as $170,000 a year, worked full days.

“We were able to identify one day in the four months when one of these doctors worked a full day,” the audit said. “We estimate the division lost up to $1.7 million from doctors’ attendance problems at the Rawson-Neal Hospital in fiscal year 2009.”

Cook said the doctor who only worked two hours a day is no longer with the agency. Three other doctors with attendance problems are also gone, he said.

Cook said the expectation is that all state employees will put in an eight-hour day.

The agency is looking at privatizing the medical services as a way to address the issue going forward, he said.

All 11 audit recommendations were accepted by the agency.

Gibbons said the audits help pinpoint problems so fixes can be made going forward. The audit of the agencies is critical to ensuring the state meets its fiduciary obligation to taxpayers.

“We need to know where our weaknesses are, we need to know where the state can do better,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Gibbons on audit findings:

063010Gibbons1 :18 not be defrauded.”

Gibbons on need for audits:

063010Gibbons2 :12 solving those probelms.”

Cook on potential fraud:

063010Cook1 :30 to deceive us.”

Cook on findings that were inappropriate:

061030Cook2 :19 by the staff.”

Cook on physican attendance problems:

063010Cook3 :15 are also gone.”