BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: Gudeman Given Ventura Directorship
After three hours of contentious debate yesterday, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to appoint David Gudeman director of the beleaguered Behavioral Health Department, the Los Angeles Times reports. "What the system needs is leadership and stability," former state Rep. Robert Lagomarsino said, adding, "I think we need to get on with it, and the candidate who has been recommended is the right one." Since March, Gudeman has been the interim director of the department, which briefly merged with the Public Social Services Agency. That alliance dissolved after nine months due to Medicare regulators' assertion that the combo violated federal billing rules. Supervisors Susan Lacey and Kathy Long opposed Gudeman's appointment, saying he "lacked the requisite expertise to lead the 560-employee department" and that the application process should have extended nationwide. Ventura County Mental Health Board Chair John Chaudier also opposed the selection, fearing that Gudeman "will not adequately address the problems that threaten the $5.4 million in special funding the department receives for running innovative programs." That funding may be revoked by mental health officials if the department does not halt an alleged deterioration of services. Gudeman previously worked as a research psychiatrist at the University of California-Los Angeles (Metcalfe, 6/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.