Mental Health Workers Concerned With California’s Overhaul Plans
Mental health care workers are voicing concern over the state Department of Mental Health's proposal to eliminate hundreds of positions as part ofÂ an overhaul of the state's mental health care system, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Lin, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 12/12).
About the Plan
Last week, the mental health department released plans to overhaul state mental health care programs.
The proposal outlines the establishment ofÂ a new Department of State Hospitals, which is expected to replace the Department of Mental Health next year (California Healthline, 12/8). The new department would oversee about 6,300 patients in state hospitals and prisons.
The proposal also calls for eliminating 620 positions next year to reduce costs by $193 million. According to the state, many of the positions already are vacant or could be eliminated through attrition.
The plan is part of Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) broader push to shift management of state services to local control.
Details of Staffing Issues
Under the state's plan, staff would be assigned to patients based on the seriousness of their mental health conditions.
Members of Safety Now -- a coalition of psychiatric technicians, physicians and other state hospital employees -- said the plan would reduce patient-to-staff ratios by nearly one-third.
Stuart Bussey -- president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists -- said, "We know that if treatment staff are cut, patient safety will certainly deteriorate further, and assaults will increase."
Kathy Gaither -- acting chief deputy director of the Department of Mental Health -- said the state's plan is designed to save money while maintaining quality of care and safety (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 12/12).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.