“There’s No More Money,” says Governor Walker’s Wife in a Discussion about Programs to Reduce Trauma in Wisconsin

Tonette Walker told a group in Milwaukee that her program “Fostering Futures” had changed state government by “goading” institutions and agencies to develop policies and practices that recognize the lifelong impact of childhood trauma.

When asked if she would advocate for more spending on relevant programs, Walker replied, “No. That’s not what I do at Fostering Futures. My number one thing when I meet with someone is: There is no more money. You are not getting any more money from me. I don’t have any control over that.”

Walker’s comments occurred at one of a series of  monthly meetings organized by the president of Marquette University and his wife to find solutions to the epidemic of trauma-related problems in Milwaukee.

Click here to read the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Winnebago Mental Health Institute Continues to Jeopardize Patient Health

Serious problems remain at Winnebago Mental Health Institute, according to two recent news reports.

Action News 2 at WBAY.com reported on July 30 that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told the facility that it was not in compliance with federal standards in terms of physical environment, special staff requirements, and medical records.  The facility’s proposed “correction plan” includes such key areas as improving treatment plans and providing sufficient nursing staff and psychiatric care technicians.

CMS extended its deadline for compliance yet again.  The new date is October 1.  If the facility does not comply, it can no longer receive Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Click here to read “Winnebago Mental Health Gets Another Chance to Meet Medicare Standards.”

A July 25 report in Oshkosh Northwestern offers supporting and frightening details.

“As of July 3, the facility had at least 41 vacancies — that’s about 6.5 percent of the full staff. Openings include six full-time psychiatrists and nine full-time psychiatric care technicians.”

“An April report by a consultant for the state found Winnebago was “heavily relying” on overtime, increasing risk of harm to patients, causing staff to quit, and incurring substantial cost. Winnebago employees made nearly $1.9 million in overtime between July 2016 and July 2017.

Click here to read “Inspectors: Problems at Winnebago Institute Linger 8 Months After Patient’s Death.”

Click here to read a letter to the editor that proposes a solution to the problem.

Wisconsin should emulate Rhode Island’s success by offering methadone treatment in jails and prisons

Pew Charitable Trusts, which spent a year studying the state’s opioid treatment system, offered recommendations to a state task force.  Among them was the suggestion for a pilot program that would offer medication-assisted treatment in at least one prison or one jail.

Rhode Island has such a program that led to a 61 percent decrease in overdose deaths among recently incarcerated people and a 12 percent decrease in overdose deaths statewide.

Pew consultants also recommended that the state:

—-Expand opioid treatment programs.  The state has too few providers offering methadone treatment.

—–Develop a legal definition for recovery housing that would bar discrimination against those using methadone treatment, and

——Fund an expansion of buprenorphine training for providers during training programs for doctors and other medical professionals.

UPDATE:  Click here to read an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a pioneering program in the Dane County Jail to treat substance abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

Winnebago Mental Health Institute a Threat to Patients

More problems have surfaced with the use of the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for Dane County residents and others suffering from acute psychotic episodes.   Two Madison police officers drive two hours each way to escort a person in great stress to Oshkosh.  The person likely deteriorates and the officers spend time that could be better used in policing.

Mental health advocates, family members, and criminal justice professionals have all urged a better approach to the problem of getting care for a person who could be a danger to himself or others.

A recent article suggests that the trip might be the least of the problems with the use of Winnebago.  Read “Feds Sanction Winnebago Mental Health Institute” by WSJ reporter David Wahlberg to learn about a series of horrific incidents that threatened the lives of patients and put Medicare funds in jeopardy.

In December and February, federal inspectors issued 48 citations for violations of important Medicare rules including  improper patient care, inadequate nursing staff, poor oversight of medical staff, and an unsafe physical environment.

Even more shocking are some of the incidents Wahlberg reports.

“After a patient fell and hit his head, it took more than 14 hours before he was sent to an emergency room, where he needed surgery for a brain bleed.”

“Before another patient was discharged, he told a nurse he would jump out of his father’s vehicle on the way home. After his father picked him up, the patient ran onto a highway. He was readmitted.”   The patient had initially been admitted for a suicide attempt and had tested positive in a suicide screening the month he was released.

At 10 a.m. Oct. 15, [a] patient was seen hitting his head on the floor. Afterward, he lay unresponsive in a day room for about 12 hours, including at least two hours after urinating on himself and not being cleaned up, before nurses returned him to his room, inspectors said.   A doctor working at Winnebago temporarily assessed the patient twice that day and said there were no concerns, including no brain bleed. Nurses said they didn’t move or change him earlier because of short staffing, though a nursing supervisor told inspectors other nurses were available to help. After “neurochecks” were done on the patient at 11:10 p.m., and another doctor on call said he should go to the ER, he was taken there at 12:30 a.m. the next day.”

Poor management and callousness at Winnebago are obvious.  However, the difficulties of getting help for people with severe mental illness go beyond that institution.  Wahlberg also reported on violations by Strategic Behavioral Health, the company approved to open a psychiatric facility in Middleton.  Click here to read his article.

The solution is both simple and complicated.  We need more public money for mental health services.  Rallying support for that money and figuring out how to spend it are the complicated aspects.

A first step is passage of a bill that would have provided funds for the establishment  of mental health crisis centers throughout the state.   The bill was supported by county governments, criminal justice organizations, and the League of Women Voters.

Click here to read a letter to the editor describing that bill and the diverse support for it.    This legislative session has ended, but we have an opportunity in November to elect representatives who will support the use of public money to help those who need it most.

UPDATE:  The man who fell and was left on the floor for 14 hours later died.  Click here to read an article about the investigation.

 

 

Federal grants to decrease the number of people with serious mental illness in jail: Deadline May 29

Here is an announcement from Stepping Up about a grant program to reduce the number of people with serious mental illness in jail.  The Dane County government and Journey Mental Health appear to be eligible for funding. 
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs-Bureau of Justice Assistance seeks applications for funding for The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). The JMHCP supports cross-system collaboration to improve responses and outcomes for people who have mental illnesses or co-occurring substance use disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This grant program provides awards ranging between $100,000 and $750,000 for a 12- to 36-month project period to states, units of local governments, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, and state-county authorized mental health authorities.

There are three grant categories:
Category 1: Collaborative County Approaches to Reducing the Prevalence of Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses in Jails
Category 2: Strategic Planning for Law Enforcement and Mental Health Collaboration
Category 3: Implementation and Expansion

The deadline to apply is May 29.

Register for Webinar about This Funding Opportunity
The Council of State Governments Justice Center, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will be hosting a webinar to provide guidance on how to respond to this solicitation on Tuesday, May 8 from 2-3:30 p.m.

Click here for the announcement, including links for more information and registration.

Congress Shows Promising Increase of Bipartisan Support for Criminal Justice Reform: So Does Wisconsin

Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly’s Corrections Committee crafted an ambitious plan to close the notorious Lincoln Hills/Copper Lakes complex, negotiated successfully with county governments, ultimately got a unanimous vote for the bill in the Assembly and the governor’s signature.  It was a rare bipartisan success story.

At the federal level, representatives of both parties also are working together successfully, despite the punitive approach of the U.S. Attorney General.

Here are some examples from the Council of State Government’s Justice Center.

Congressional leaders in March took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs in FY 2019—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state level.
U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Mark Walker (R-NC) gathered 74 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year.
U.S. Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and Norma Torres (D-CA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA.
U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Tom Marino (R-PA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for JRI, a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies that improve public safety.

 

 

Problems Raised with SBH’s Proposal for a Psychiatric Hospital/Crisis Restoration Center

Middleton’s planning commission will host a public hearing on April 10 about the plans of Strategic Behavioral Health (SBH) to open a 72-bed psychiatric facility.  The city council has already endorsed the idea of providing $1.2 million in tax incremental financing to the for-profit company.

Through a review of public records, WSJ reporter David Wahlberg has uncovered a  number of violations by SBH in its operations in other states and nearby Green Bay.   Here are some of the most troublesome excerpts from his article.

“The Green Bay facility, called Willow Creek Behavioral Health, has had four medical directors, [since January 2017] and current and former employees say the facility is short-staffed. Aurora Health Care, which did medical exams at the hospital, terminated the contract this January.”

“After 10 youth escaped from Strategic Behavioral Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on New Year’s Day, the state suspended admissions, issued a $20,000 fine and gave the psychiatric hospital an immediate jeopardy violation for failing to keep the facility secure.

The sanctions are among nine immediate jeopardy citations and other serious actions taken in recent years against psychiatric hospitals owned by Strategic Behavioral Health…”

“Immediate jeopardy “is the highest level of potential sanction, and it is not common,” said Mark Covall, CEO of the National Association of Behavioral Healthcare, which represents psychiatric hospitals and includes Strategic Behavioral Health as a member.

“But the real key is whether or not the hospital made the changes that were necessary to continue their license,” Covall said.”

Click here to read David Wahlberg’s article about the violations and responses of advocates, public officials, and health care experts.   Click here to read a description of the violations.

Click here to read an article in Isthmus about the problems with SBH.