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Probes highlight mental hospitals’ challenges


Investigations at psychiatric hospitals in three states have highlighted some daunting issues that these organizations face.

The Boston Globe has reported that federal investigators have cited Arbor Health System for dirty conditions and lack of needed staff. Arbor runs eight mental-health facilities in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post has reported on serious understaffing at the state mental hospital in Pueblo, Colo. Things are said to be so bad that federal investigators have found that the 449-bed Colorado Mental Health Institute poses “a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety” of its patients.

And Tulsa World has  reported that federal and state officials plan to cut off   funding for Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health System, in Tulsa, after instances of staff members roughing up patients and using “nebulous action plans” that included restraints or seclusion.

Of course, that demand for psychiatric beds is  so high makes things tougher for  providers that struggle to have space for patients. And there aren’t enough psychiatrists and  other mental-health clinicians to treat these patients.

Many mentally ill patients end up in hospital emergency department, where most emergency physicians say mental-illness treatment is sorely inadequate.

To read The Boston Globe’s story, please hit this link.

To read The Denver Post’s story, please hit this link.

To read Tulsa World’s story, please hit this link.

Fla. overhauling mental-health and substance-abuse treatment


Florida is about to make an historic overhaul of mental-health and substance-abuse treatment .

Advocates say that the changes could help people  get treatment earlier, which would reduce strain on  mental hospitals. The Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that they are understaffed and don’t have enough resources to keep up with demand.

The Miami Herald reports: “At the heart of the changes are Florida’s managing entities, which are nonprofits that oversee state contracts in each of seven regions of the state. Lawmakers tasked them to work with the counties in their areas to create a new system for evaluating people in need.

“That means creating locations in every part of the state to determine what kind of services people need — a sort of mental health emergency room to serve those in crisis, whether they recognize it themselves, are involuntarily committed ..] or a police officer decides it’s best to bring them there instead of jail.

“Providers in some parts of the state, including Tampa Bay and South Florida, already collaborate, but the changes passed by lawmakers this year require them to bring law enforcement and other government agencies on board.”

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