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Saturday, February 16, 2019
HomeAlaska NewsBreaking: Commissioner takes over Alaska Psychiatric Institute

Breaking: Commissioner takes over Alaska Psychiatric Institute

INVOKES HIS AUTHORITY UNDER STATE LAW

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum has invoked his authority under state law to immediately assume management of Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

In a news release this morning, the commissioner said the decision was made in response to the “considerable problems that continue to put patients and staff in jeopardy at API and in light of recent and ongoing investigations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other state and federal regulatory agencies.”

Commissioner Crum has contracted with Wellpath Recovery Solutions, a nationally recognized health care company with a proven record of success, to provide administrative leadership of the facility with continued oversight from the state.

“During the course of recent investigations at API, we determined immediate steps were needed to protect patients and staff and ensure complete compliance with federal regulations, which also allows the facility to continue to receive federal funds,” said Crum.

He recognized that serious efforts have been made towards addressing the deficiencies identified by federal and state authorities, but progress is not being made quickly enough.

“While additional security measures have recently been implemented at API to better ensure patient and staff safety, contracting with Wellpath was deemed necessary to further address safety and patient rights issues and bring the facility rapidly into complete compliance with federal and state standards,” he said.

Alaska state law (AS 47.32.140) allows for the commissioner to assume either temporary or permanent management of a licensed health care entity when there is reasonable cause to believe there is a danger to the health, safety or welfare of individuals receiving care from that entity.

Wellpath will provide administrative oversight with the intent of correcting problems of patient and staff safety and patient rights, bringing the hospital into rapid compliance with its regulatory bodies, improving the therapeutic environment, and preparing the hospital to return to its full capacity by June 30, 2019.

During the initial phase of the contract, Wellpath will bring in a team of experts to fill key leadership positions at API to support the successful completion of their mission. All API staff will remain in their positions as State of Alaska employees. Gavin Carmichael will continue as API’s acting chief executive officer. If Wellpath is successful in the first phase, the company will assume full responsibility of API after July 1, 2019.

“I recognize this decision may take Alaskans by surprise, but it was not made lightly. Changes have been needed at API for a very long time,” said Commissioner Crum. “This decision will help us solve these long-standing problems at API, and then allow us to more effectively broaden our focus to address the entire continuum of behavioral health care across Alaska.”

Wellpath, which merged with Correct Care Solutions and Correctional Medical Group Companies, has had success bringing facilities similar to API back into compliance with CMS and Joint Commission standards. In Massachusetts, Wellpath substantially improved conditions at the Bridgewater State Hospital after assuming operations in 2017. All hospitals managed by Wellpath are fully accredited by the Joint Commission.

A press conference will take place this morning with Crum, representatives from the Alaska Mental Health Trust, the Alaska Behavioral Health Association, North Star Behavioral Health, Alaska Regional Hospital and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

“By taking this step with the support of the health care community, the State of Alaska and our health care partners can begin to seriously address API’s longstanding problems and Alaska’s behavioral health crisis,” Crum said.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Finally. This is where they located Byron Mallott, who checked into the API Hotel back in November. If he hasn’t paid room and board, and for group therapy, then the new Commish should send him packing and charge him for back rent and mental services. Things were getting a little too comfy for Mallott during his long hideout.

  • About time! I hope he sends the whole lot packing and re-structures the entire thing. Or better, just lease the property to some entity qualified to provide these services. The 2017 PCG Privatization Study was a sham perpetuated by the same bunch responsible for this management. It should be re-visited. The state needs to get out of the hospital business and turn it over to real professional operators. This will not save us much in actual costs per patient, but the service will not be plagued by these atrocious problems. To understand the scope of problems see this link:
    http://dhss.alaska.gov/News/Documents/press/2018/20180912_EvansReport.pdf

    • OMGOODNESS…
      TOOK sooo long, we owe EVERY LEVEL OF EVERY PERSON UNDER THAT ROOF…DESERVES THE MOST PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT.
      ONLY those who belong there should be there.
      ??? OCS OVERFLOW @ API (?)
      HOPE YOU ARE RESPONSIBILE TO ALL OF API’S PEOPLE.🙏🙏🙏🙏

  • Kudos to Commissioner Crum. It is about time someone stepped in and took a failing system by the horns. This didn’t start with the Walker administration; it was made terribly worse with the Walker administration.

  • More insurance issues? What the state has never projected and proven is that there are no experts in Alaska and this new commissioner is not an expert either.. When you come in the back door, as this person has done, the problem still persists and will on into the future. If the Walker Administration had the problem all that time, four years, and this group sees an opening to stomp on the new administration, I hate to think of the future mental health of this state. We have a new governor that has not finished filling positions. Evidently, the hospitals feel like they can “bully” anyone into believing they are making the right move. The hospitals are scared. They could lose some critical funding and are pulling the “wool” over your eyes trying to make the residents of this state believe that their move is the best thing to do. Where is the new State Attorney while this junk goes on?

  • I think I am going to like our new Commissioner of HHS!

    • Liking someone and looking at the manipulation of that person are two different factors. This state does not know this person. secondly, the decision to put a mental health consortium at the wheel of our state says that he read the permanent dividend fund prospectus and it looked better than what he is use too. A mental health organization in touch with the prison systems of Florida and through Tennessee? Ask more questions than making that statement. Grabbing power is what he exhibited and that is not all right, not with the men, women and children that have to have services out of the API. Remember, there are no experts in this state and there never were. Do you remember Hallodon Hal? Well, everything you read in the Anchorage Daily News is right on. In 40 years plus that API has not been managed at all. Look to the Boards and the level of practiced and licensing that has been dumped on this state and the people in it. No one asks questions, you all just sit around and say its all right. No, this is not all right. I wouldn’t put the mental healthcare of the state in the hands of anyone who was too far into corrections and prison background on their resume. API is in need of Neurologists with expert related backgrounds. This guy doesn’t have it and never will. Where is this illustrious new Attorney General for the State of Alaska? Hiding in the shadows?

      • What is the Attorney General supposed to do?
        Indict or sue somebody? That’ll only add more months or years of nothing getting done.
        How does that help the patients that are suffering now?

  • The Attorney General prosecutes those who take advantage of the vulnerable, men, women and children in this state. He is suppose to keep his law section that handles these issues on point. Has he done that yet? Doesn’t look like it……..

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