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Sunday, May 29, 2022

State audit finds continuing problems — and progress — at Mind Springs’ Colorado mental health centers

Mind Springs, the community mental health provider for 10 Colorado counties, must change how it prescribes potentially dangerous drugs and do more to make sure it is meeting local needs, a report released Thursday said. State audit concluded.

In a briefing Thursday for Western Slope officials and journalists, directors from three state agencies outlined plans to improve care in Mind Springs, which are mental health in Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffatt, Pitkin. is responsible for the services. Rio Blanco, Root and Summit Counties. It operates outpatient clinics and West Springs Hospital.

The 22-page audit report was put together by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Colorado Department of Human Services, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

It found that Mind Springs, the subject of a series of investigative reports by the Colorado News Collaborative, did not have thorough prescribing practices that could put patients at risk of overdosing.

The Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, which runs the state’s Medicaid program, will need to use a tool to characterize risky prescribing decisions that springs to mind. It is also imperative that Mind Springs change its board to better reflect the community; Attempt to fill vacant clinical positions; Provide services in Spanish; track whether people who ask for help actually get it; and make a plan to close any gaps between the services the centers provide and what their communities need.

The Department of Health Care Policy and Finance found that Mind Springs was complying with the state’s financial reporting rules, but those rules were not guaranteeing good service to communities and they are being updated, executive director Kim Biemstafer said.

“We need mind springs to be successful,” she said. “It has improved, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Mind Springs officials, who received the findings about two hours before the public unveiling, did not respond publicly on Thursday.

The Office of Behavioral Health under the Colorado Department of Human Services found that Mind Springs was not always reporting harm to patients immediately; Customers may not have received input on their care plans; did not set clear goals for treatment; did not properly assess the level of care customers required; and has failed to meet other requirements that it documents customer care and progress. It reported that Mind Springs has already addressed most of its concerns.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s portion of the audit looked at whether Mind Springs failed to protect patients’ rights. It did not find enough evidence to draw conclusions.

The agencies reported that they decided to conduct a joint audit after hearing concerns from local leaders and receiving 47 complaints about Mind Springs following a separate investigation in the spring of 2021. Biemstafer said she was not satisfied with Mind Springs’ response to their concerns last year, but the interim CEO and new board members remain committed to making the change.

“When you have a willing partner, it’s a lot easier to address something,” she said.

The latest audit follows several years of growing concerns about Mind Springs. Summit and Eagle Counties are terminating their contracts with Mind Springs and setting up their own mental health centers due to concerns about the organization’s lack of transparency about its use of taxpayer money; widespread mistrust in their communities; and the alleged refusal to send response workers to assist people in distress. Mind Springs said it has to navigate a “delicate balance” to ensure the safety of its employees.

In April 2021, a whistleblower raised the alarm about potentially unsafe prescribing in Mind Springs. Rocky Mountain Health Plan, which has a state contract to administer Medicaid benefits in western Colorado, found that some patients received high doses of drugs that could lead to overdose, even if they had a history of addiction. or be at risk for suicide. A comprehensive review in December found potentially dangerous drug decisions in 128 of 472 medical records.

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