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Archive for Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kansas mental health group concerned about state funding

September 6, 2011

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Leaders of the Recovery and Hope Network in Lawrence have started an online petition urging Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services to renew its contracts for mental health consumer-run organizations.

“Unfortunately, in less than 30 days, all Kansas CROs will begin permanently shutting down as their contracts with Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS) run out and the promised new funding proposal fails to be made available,” Kendall Simmons, the director of the Recovery and Hope Network, said in the petition.

The Recovery and Hope Network is what is called a consumer-run organization, or CRO. CROs, funded through state and federal grants. They are non-profit organizations run by adult mental health consumers that provide peer assistance for other people with mental illness. The network provides support groups, socialization activities, education and training. The Lawrence group, located at 1009 N.H., serves more than 340 people, and it is one of 22 CROs statewide.

Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for SRS, told the Lawrence Journal-World that the agency has decided to extend the contracts for CROs through Dec. 31.

“The CROs are being sent extension agreements that they need to promptly sign and return to us,” de Rocha said. “Once returned, SRS will process the extensions quickly to ensure timely payment.” De Rocha added, “SRS is grateful for the work these organizations do for the citizens of Kansas.”

But Simmons said SRS had not notified any CROs that the contracts had been extended.

And Simmons said given the performance of SRS in the past few months, she is unsure what the agency has in store for CROs.

“No one is telling us anything,” she said. “It is really stressful for our folks,” she said.

Starting in the spring, the checks that SRS would send to the Recovery and Hope Network were being delayed. The June check due June 7 arrived June 30. The check due July 7 didn’t come until August, she said.

Last year, the Recovery and Hope Network received $66,200 from SRS. That amount has been cut to $64,214 even though the group is helping about 30 percent more people.

Asked why it is taking so long to get the contracts in order, de Rocha said SRS “is moving with due deliberation through the procurement process.”

She also said SRS is proceeding with competitive bidding for the services provided by CROs for the last six months of the fiscal year, which would be Jan. 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012.

Simmons said she doesn’t understand how the state would seek competitive bids for a peer-supported mental illness organization. “I’m not sure a lot of these folks understand what consumer run organizations are,” she said.

Comments

NOTcrusher 3 years, 3 months ago

You think?

You think there's not enough money to go all around?

Wake up and smell the capucchino.

Hugs!

C.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 3 months ago

While I can't speak for the other CROs across the state, I know it costs RAHN less than $13 a day to keep someone with a severe mental illness out of a state mental hospital...while it costs the state $428 a day to hospitalize that same person.

I don't know about you...but I'd much rather my tax dollars got spent on that $13 a day option than the $428 one. And arguing there's not enough money to make that choice? Yeah, right :-)

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

Only $428 a day? I don't think so, not all places are that cheap.

For one week at Hadley, the mental hospital in Hays, the bill added up to about $8,000. So at least in Hays, your math is way off.

And that was in 1994, so if you correct for inflation, you're even further off.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 3 months ago

It used to cost $3,000 to fly across the country, too :-) And digital cameras were $5,500. And color TVs? Who could afford a color TV?

That $428 is a NAMI figure from 6 months ago, so I think I'll stick with it for the time being :-)

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

You might have a point. The amount of $8,000 for a single week at Hadley at Hays is not part of any current discussion, because they closed their psych ward years ago because it was losing so much money.

Actually, that figure might have been for 10 days total, I'm not really sure because it was a long time ago. I was there twice, once for 3 days, and again for 7. In that case, the actual amount per day would have been only $800 in 1994.

They may have closed the ward because the bills they sent the patients were so high that very few considered even trying to pay them.

The reason I know? I was shocked when I saw the bill. I knew I had no way to pay, so I never even made an attempt.

Later, I was in the ward at the VA hospital in Topeka. The difference was striking. The care is ever so much better at the VA than it had ever been at Hadley that there is no comparison at all.

I actually got better at the VA. I certainly cannot say that about Hadley.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

One big thing is that at the VA, the nurses check on you every 30 minutes 24/7. They came through once in a while at Hadley, but not very often.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 3 months ago

However, that may not be a very fair comparison. Veterans as a group are much better behaved as patients because they are used to following instructions without question, and are therefore much easier to treat.

And, the PTSD patients were on a different ward at the VA, so there was another level of selection that way also.

Lane Signal 3 years, 3 months ago

But the SRS rep could at least be honest and straight forward about what is going on. If they really are opening up a competitive bidding process, that sounds to me like Brownie is trying to dole out some more money to "friends" while offering services that don't nearly match what is already being provided at a huge savings to tax payers. There is no way a for profit company could offer comparable services at less cost. The delayed payments and lack of information sharing just sound like mean spirited bullying to me. I supported the city and county decision to fund keeping the local SRS office open. I hope the above is not an indication that SRS is becoming adversarial in it's dealings with the community.

hedshrinker 3 years, 3 months ago

How are these issues essential criterion for the central mission of consumer run mental health groups, which I assume have to do with stabilizing and maintaining vulnerable people in their communities, rather than in a hospital with daily structure, socialization, meaningful activities, psychological education about crisis management, anxiety management, etc. ? I won't deny that people's faith path, along with their sexual identity (emphatically not just "heterosexual marriage")and parenting support if they need it are important, but maybe NOT the primary concern of the CRO.

costello 3 years, 3 months ago

"Simmons said she doesn’t understand how the state would seek competitive bids for a peer-supported mental illness organization. 'I’m not sure a lot of these folks understand what consumer run organizations are,' she said."

This doesn't make any sense to me either. Is there some competing peer-run support group willing to do the same thing for less money?

What I really don't understand is how it is that I'm only hearing about this organization for the first time when it's apparently about to close its doors. I have a mentally ill adult son, living in Douglas County, who has expressed an interest in peer support. I had no idea this service was available.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 3 months ago

The Recovery and Hope Network was organized in 2004 and moved to its current location in October 2006. RAHN (it's pronounced "rain") served 33 consumers in FY 2006...and 340 in FY 2011.

We have a website (recoveryandhope.org) and an occasionally-updated blog ("Flying Over the Cuckoo's Nest"). We work closely with local organizations and agencies such as Bert Nash, Independence, Inc. and CommunityWorks as well as with local law enforcement and the homeless shelter. We participate in area events (such as the City 4th of July celebration, Sidewalk Sale, St. Patrick's Day parade) so as to spread awareness of who we are and what we do. We give presentations throughout Douglas County. We also run the funnel cake booth at the Renaissance Festival (and need volunteers...hint, hint!!)

What we do not have is an advertising budget or marketing guru, so referrals from mental health providers and word-of-mouth are how most folks with SPMI seeking peer support find us.

Indeed, we don't have much of a budget at all. We accomplish miracles on a shoestring. Heck, our entire budget for this past fiscal year was $73,640, of which $66,200 was from SRS...an amount which has been reduced 3% this year...while the other $7,500 was from donations and fundraising.

So, nope...we don't reach everyone who needs us. But we help the ones we can. And we're going to keep our doors open as long as we possibly can because the need is so very great.

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