Alaska Psychiatric gets accreditation renewed



The Alaska Psychiatric Institute has had its accreditation renewed for psychiatric care from The Joint Commission, a designation that is good for the next three years.

Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said that API had been in immediate danger of losing its accreditation for behavior health care when he began to address the situation in December. “This provides further evidence that the actions we’ve taken over the last few months are making positive improvements for our patients and staff.”

DHSS hired Wellpath to take over the management of the chronically troubled psychiatric institute at about the same time the Joint Commission was conducting its on-site survey. During that survey, two requirements for improvement were noted for medical staff and physical environment, deficiencies were successfully addressed by API and Wellpath.

Further onsite visits and review by the Joint Commission showed the institution had complied with the standards.

The Joint Commission – an independent, nonprofit organization – evaluates health care organizations on standards related to care, treatment and services; environment of care; leadership; and screening procedures for early detection of imminent harm.

Accreditation by the commission indicates whether an institution is meeting the established standards for care, which in turn impacts licensing and certification for federal funding. Having the commission’s accreditation is just one certification that API must maintain. In its report, the commission has recommended API for continued Medicare certification to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

The full report issued by the Joint Commission is available at this link.

In the House of Representatives, five Democrats have demanded the Department of Health and Social Services end the contract with Wellpath, which went into effect in February as an emergency measure to save the institution. Signing the letter were Democratic Reps. Zach Fields, Matt Claman and Ivy Spohnholz of Anchorage, Tiffany Zulkosky of Bethel, and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka.

The lawmakers want the second phase of the contract to be put out to bid and awarded according to unstated parameters, but the lawmakers noted that another company, Providence Health and Services, should be considered.

API safety report: Staff so fearful they don’t respond to ‘codes’



  1. I have attended the last three API Governing Body meetings. During yesterday Governing Body meeting the Joint Commission was on site, reopened a 24 bed wing and begain operations. I have worked in Hospitals for over 25 years and have been a team member on Joint Commission and CMS Reviews/Audits. API has been a failure for years but, in the last 90 days the operations and administration have greatly improved through the leadership of Depuity Commissior Albert E. Wall, API Team and WellPath. Pulling the pieces and players together has not been easy, huge challenge, and progress will continue. [ Interested – review my Commentary in 12/3/2018 ADN on Alaska’s mental health crisis: Ideas and possible solutions]

    With the API Management Team that Duputy Commissior Wall is leading with the WellPath management resources that they have put in place (they manage several other Psy Hospitals), he is getting the job done. Joint Commission and CMS were going to close API within days in Febuary 2019. With CMS review and getting the backlog of Psy Evaluations is his next target on the road of contiued improvement.

    The final reviews in June this year will get API to full operational status. Psy evaluations will become timely, treatment for patients will meet national standards and empolyees will be safe. Most important the Citizen’s of Alaska will have an institution that will make us all proud.

    David Morgan
    Fellow Healthcare Financial Management Association and
    American Society of Health Ecomonists.

  2. I hope improved patient care will happen. I hope better doctors will be hired.
    The last time I was in API, the psychiatrist told me I was a drug addict I needed to go into rehab. I was there because I was manic and couldn’t sleep. It had nothing to do with my taking Klonopin, which I have been on for years for Sleep disorders and anxiety.
    That last day was a nightmare. They withheld my blood pressure medication. I didn’t understand why they did that. Of course my blood pressure got really high. It was ridiculous. I wrote out a complaint, but of course I never heard anything from anyone at API.

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