Clinics seek behavioral health certification
Clinics across the state are working to be Minnesota’s first Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, a new model that improves and integrates care for people with mental illness and substance use disorder, through grants announced by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
“Finding the care you need for a mental illness or substance use disorder can be difficult,” said DHS Commissioner Emily Piper. “Typically, a person with a mental illness will need to contact several different agencies to obtain various services, and rarely can someone obtain both mental health and substance use disorder treatment through the same agency.”
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are designed to change that. By offering a high level of coordination between primary care providers, chemical health providers, social services agencies, counties, tribes, veterans’ programs and other key partners, the clinics are expected serve as a “one-stop-shop” and help people before facing a crisis. As a result, families will be more likely to avoid the emergency room and less likely to involve law enforcement.
More than $425,000 in grants will support the planning and development. Six clinics will now start planning to be eligible to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. These are Northern Pines Mental Health Center in north-central Minnesota; Northwestern Mental Health Center serving seven northwest counties; Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center in Olmsted and Fillmore Counties in the southeast and Twin Cities providers Wilder Children
and Family Services, People Incorporated and Ramsey County Mental Health Center. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are a new demonstration program from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Minnesota is one of 24 states receiving funding for planning. Minnesota has until October 2016 to complete the planning process and certify at least two clinics, one urban and one rural. In January 2017 the federal government will select approximately eight demonstration states to begin providing services in July 2017. (Source: DHS)
Help stop abuse of vulnerable adults
Minnesotans are reminded that they can make the difference in stopping maltreatment of vulnerable adults. Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper launched a public awareness campaign promoting the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center, the state’s single toll-free hotline to report suspected maltreatment of vulnerable adults, including older adults and individuals with disabilities.
The new center consolidates 169 county phone numbers into one toll-free number, 1-844-880-1574, that Minnesotans can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report abuse. “This single statewide hotline serves as an important line of defense against the abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of some of our most vulnerable neighbors, friends, and family members,” said Piper.
The public awareness campaign, “The Power of Could,” publicizes the hotline by depicting signs of possible maltreatment, prompting questions of whether the situation “could be nothing” or “could be maltreatment,” and highlighting how reporting abuse could make a big difference for a vulnerable adult. Radio ads, videos, social media and print materials will carry the message. Examples are on the Adult Protection resources page.
“Older adults and people with disabilities are at a higher risk of abuse than the general adult population, and maltreatment of these individuals is underreported,” Piper said. “Data collected by the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center over time will help focus future prevention efforts to improve safety and quality of life for people with disabilities and older adults.” (Source: Minnesota DHS)
Hospitals make plans for shorter-term housing
Three of Minnesota’s largest hospitals are helping adults with psychiatric illnesses find short-term housing, after staff became frustrated with the constant bottlenecks in the state mental health system. Mayo Clinic and Hennepin County Medical Center have made plans to develop short-term housing for adults who may be ready for hospital discharge, but need more therapy before returning home. Regions Hospital in St. Paul is developing plans to create a 16-bed residential treatment center to help psychiatric patents after they are discharged.
The recovery homes would serve more than 400 adults with mental illness each year. They would relieve pressure on hospital emergency departments, which struggle with a surge of people undergoing mental health crises. They would also signal a change as hospitals transition from a shorter-term to longerterm care role. The shortage of psychiatric beds, more demand for service and dangerous overcrowding at hospital emergency rooms are driving the change.
Because the state doesn’t have enough recovery homes, patients who are clinically stable get stuck in hospitals for long periods of time with nowhere to go. Others then must wait for care.
“The whole system is backed up, and hospitals have realized they want to have more control over the process,” Joel Oberstar, president of the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, told the Star Tribune. (Source: Star Tribune)
Pilot program promotes healthy living
St. Paul’s Highland Friendship Club, which creates social opportunities for teens and adults with disabilities, is now promoting healthy lifestyles. The pilot program began after club co-founder Pat Leseman saw group home staff in a dollar store, with a shopping cart full of macaroni and cheese.
“I’ve watched the majority of our clients over the last 14 years just not taking care of themselves fitness-wise, diet-wise. … It’s something we’ve known but it just really hit me in a different way when I saw that cart,” Leseman said. “I just thought ‘What in the hell are we doing?’ ”
“Get Up and Eat Healthy” is a program meant to raise awareness about the issue and ultimately change behaviors and health for Twin Cities adults living with disabilities. The club obtained a small grant to set the plan in motion and is working with the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church and MFT Inc., a group home operator. Ten group home residents are participating and staff members said the results are positive.
Leseman said the project is going well and is likely to be expanded. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that obesity rates for adults with disabilities are 58 percent higher than adults without disabilities. A lack of healthy food choices, resources, physical limitations, low energy and medications that can cause weight gain are among the factors. (Source: Pioneer Press)
Attorney General sues group
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in June filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County against two Michigan companies. Swanson contends that the companies have misled donors in soliciting money for a veterans’ charity. Part of the groups’ solicitation notes that donations help disabled veterans. But very little money goes to veterans.
The state of Minnesota is suing Associated Community Services and its affiliate, Central Processing Services. The groups solicit donations for Foundation of American Veterans. According the lawsuit, Associated Community Services made fundraising calls to potential donors and then sent “pledge reminders” that falsely indicated that people had pledged to donate when they hadn’t. Many of the people who received fake pledge reminders were senior citizens, some on fixed incomes.
According to KMSP-TV, one Minnesota woman reported that Associated Community Services asked her for a donation and, when she refused, questioned whether she was “grateful for the sacrifices that disabled veterans have made for our country.” She asked to be put on a do not call list and the caller hung up. She was then told to donate if she wanted the calls to stop. Another Minnesota couple received a false claim they had pledged to donate $20 to the foundation, then received two pledge reminders in the mail and got many phone calls. (Source: KMSP-TV)