Changes in leadership and management structure should address troubling issues surrounding Mind Springs Health, according to an unprecedented audit of three state agencies of the Grand Junction-based mental health provider.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Sentinel with the executive directors of the three agencies and several of their staff, which includes an advance copy of the audit findings, the main recommendation is to cure Mind Springs of the way it is managed.
Much of this is already underway, in part because Its CEO Sharon Raggio resignsand Executive Vice President Michelle Hoy at the start of the three-agency audit in January.
“This was an audit that revealed what needs to be done, but with new leadership and subsequent leadership, it’s going to make a whole difference in the world,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, Commissioned an audit with the Department of Public Health, Environment and Human Services.
“When we met with (the Mind Springs board) in January, we asked the CEO’s recruiters to be present at that meeting because they needed to know what to hire,” added Bimestefer. “More of the same is not going to happen. We need a new sheriff to meet the needs of the community.”
A copy of the audit was submitted to Doug Pattison early Thursday. Pattison has been Mind Springs’ CFO since 2019 before taking over as interim CEO in January. The results of the audit were also presented to the county commissioner and others on a conference call later that afternoon.
“I’m all for that,” Pattison said. “We’re embracing change and we’re going to work with all sectors and take all the various measures, some of which will take longer than others.”
This will start with a new CEO. Pattison is one of three finalists for the job, and the final selection is expected to come soon.
Three agencies ordered the investigation after nearly 50 complaints, including a whistleblower report on drug administration, were filed by county commissioners and community leaders in the 10 counties that Mind Springs serves, including Pitkin, Garfield, Mesa and Grand counties. audit.
While officials from the three agencies and the Rocky Mountain Health Plan (which is contracted by the HCPF to coordinate care and process behavioral health Medicaid claims for audits) first learned of Mind Springs’ problems early last year, mental health providers are a type of A recent series of investigative articles from the Colorado News Collaborativea nonprofit news organization specializing in in-depth reporting.
In some of those reports, Raggio did not respond to questions about the Mind Springs issue, saying she did not want to sue the issue in the media.
The executive director said the audit was not designed to blame Raggio and other Mind Springs leaders, but was highly critical of its management and the structure of its various boards, some of which led to poor communication with its own staff and the communities it serves, and There is a general lack of transparency, especially when it comes to its finances.
“The (Mind Springs Health) board of directors is complex, lacks transparency, limits community participation, excludes specific community committees, is overrepresented in other areas, and is not being used to respond to community needs,” the audit report reads.
This “extremely complex” leadership structure has led to problems in delivering needed mental and behavioral health services, said Patrick Gordon, CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which Mind Springs has partnered with the state and West Slope’s Several counties signed contracts. fixed point.
“There are no fewer than seven legal entities that carry out the various programs and functions of Mind Springs, overseen by three distinct and somewhat overlapping committees,” Gordon said.
“We found that this structure created a sort of disconnect between the community members serving on the board and the community feedback that the Mind Springs organization serves,” he added. “I would just say that the corrective action in this area…would simplify the board structure, be organized to be more representative of the community, give more consideration to public input and transparency, and focus more on potential conflicts of interest, frankly, They are more focused on holding Mind Springs senior executives and managers accountable for their performance.”
The audit also found that other issues, such as high staff turnover, patient risk to prescribing operations, and increasingly limited access to psychiatric and behavioral health services, arise primarily from these management issues.
One involved a whistleblower complaint filed with the Rocky Mountain Health Plan by a Mind Springs doctor expressing serious concerns about medication administration and a lack of peer review and treatment practices for patients.
“RMHP quality of care reviewers found that MSH outpatient and inpatient policies and procedures were deficient in describing quality processes for quality program oversight and implementation,” the audit report said. “MSH’s peer review oversight process is inconsistent. Some reviews meet peer review standards while others do not. There is no indication that flawed findings were reviewed or acted upon.”
The audit found that Mind Springs’ prescribing practices put patients’ health at risk, in part because some were prescribed multiple controlled substances, such as “high doses” of stimulants and sedatives.
The audit included several recommendations and corrective actions that Mind Springs should take to address its problems, including creating a better drug prescribing system, reforming its management and board structure, being more transparent in its dealings with state and local communities, and complying with its financial reporting new guidelines have been adopted.
The audit also recommended that the three agencies continue to monitor Mind Springs to ensure it complies with these recommendations and implements these corrective actions.
“This (Mind Springs) board doesn’t touch the community,” Bimestefer said. “Guessing whether it was intentional or not is not as important as we change it. I would rather not let the past be what, but let the future be how, and corrective actions address whether intentional or not, doing more than they could have been Opaque issue.”