Many specialized therapists simultaneously resign from Bert Nash
photo by: Journal-World File Photos
Seven specialized therapists who deal with some of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center’s most high-risk patients have given notice that they are resigning, the center’s CEO confirmed Wednesday.
Reasons for the simultaneous resignations were not immediately clear. Although the resignations account for more than half of the licensed therapists in Bert Nash’s dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program, the mental health center said it was working on a plan to continue care for all the patients in the program.
“We’re making every effort to get the clients into the right program for them or transferring them to another DBT clinician, if that’s the appropriate thing,” said Patrick Schmitz, chief executive officer for Bert Nash.
Schmitz confirmed that all the resignations happened on Monday, July 16, and that the therapists gave 30 days’ notice. Four of the program’s current therapists will remain, one of whom was hired last week, he said.
The center has up to 258 clients who could potentially be impacted by the seven therapists’ resignation. Of the 5,000-plus people Schmitz said the center serves each year, that’s just slightly more than 5 percent, but they are clients whom he described as “oftentimes at risk for a crisis.”
Bert Nash’s website, bertnash.org, describes the DBT program as “a comprehensive treatment for individuals who struggle with a variety of emotional and behavioral problems and feel out of control. Individuals with severe mood disorders, (post-traumatic stress disorder), anger issues, relationship problems, addictions or who have suicidal/self-harming behaviors may benefit from DBT.”
The program is offered to clients for whom it is deemed medically necessary, Schmitz said, based on an assessment given to all patients. The two “levels” of DBT include an intensive outpatient group that meets for 15 hours total each week and an ongoing outpatient group that meets weekly for two hours, according to the website.
“DBT is designed specifically for individuals with some difficulties with emotional regulation,” he said.
Schmitz said the center “mailed out 258 letters” to clients, but “a number of those individuals are likely not active in that program, and so that’s part of the process we’ve been going through for the last week and a half, is looking at each of those cases and determining which ones remain active.”
He declined to comment on the reasoning the therapists cited for their mass departure, saying it was a personnel matter. The Journal-World’s efforts to reach some of the therapists themselves have been unsuccessful.
Schmitz also said he did not know if any similar circumstances had occurred in the center’s 68 years of operation. He has been with the center for a little more than a year.
The center is now advertising for leadership positions, as well as for therapists within the program.
“And one of the great things about the DBT materials is, it’s very easily digestible for most clinicians,” Schmitz continued. “We have the materials. We have some great trainers that are still here, and they will continue to train new clinicians in the model.”
In addition to finding qualified individuals to fill the positions, another concern the center will have to address is credentialing any new hires so that those providers can bill insurance companies — a process that can take months. Schmitz said the center is working with the state to process those applications quickly but it will continue to provide services in any event.
“We have a long history of providing services to clients regardless of where the credentialing process is, even if that means we eat the cost of providing that service,” Schmitz said, “because again, as a CMHC, it’s our responsibility and we see it as our mission to serve everybody regardless.”
• Aug. 18, 2018: Website for new DBT Center goes live, lists locations
• July 25, 2018: Many specialized therapists simultaneously resign from Bert Nash