The Citizens Advisory Board held its quarterly meeting at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee on Friday, October 26th.
The Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO) reported that their current patient census is 100 patients, 14 of whom are currently in Transition status, meaning they will be evaluated as to moving closer to a return to their community. CCUSO also reported that they have no major construction projects at this time, as they have completed their remodeling. They will be seeking funding to do a study on the possible use of other buildings on the MHI campus.
Business Manager Chris Tofteberg and Superintendent Jason Smith both commented on a newspaper article which stated that the cost per patient at the MHI was $42,000. They said that figure was very misleading, and didn't take into account admissions and discharges, or all of the office space at the MHI building which is rented out to other providers.
Dr. Smith also stated that the CCUSO telephone and alarm systems were upgraded over the summer, and that the Clinical Director had retired, so that position is vacant at this time. MHI also has two psychologist positions vacant, and CCUSO is seeking another evaluator to add to the two they currently have on staff. There is a current trend towards "Mid-level" staffing, including Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and the use of off-site Psychiatrists and other consultants.
Director of Nursing Jane Campbell reported that staffing has pretty much stabilized at the MHI, with most turnover involving temporary hires. Campbell also stated that the primary focus of training at MHI has been on proactive safety measures. For example, all new admissions now have two staff members escort them to the ward when they are admitted, and the new patients are now searched mechanically for contraband when they are admitted; visitors are also now screened more thoroughly for cell phones or other contraband, to make sure these items don't make it to the wards; and staff members are being encouraged to use walkie talkies, panic buttons, and other proactive alerts which they have at their disposal.
Jim Stowater, head of Housekeeping and Grounds, reported that he regularly makes rounds on all the wards to check the environment for safety and correct anything that is seen as a safety hazard.
Kathy Norris introduced herself to the C.A.B. Norris is the new Social Work Administrator who was recently hired at MHI. She has 20 years of experience in Social work, and she reported that she now has a full social work staff, and four psychiatric rehabilitation staff, one of whom has been trained to do psychological testing.
Roxanne Moller, Health Information Director, reported that the MHI has had 45 admissions thus far in the month of October, more admissions than they have had in each of the last three months. Many of the admissions have been to the Children's Unit, and many of these have been short-term evaluations.
The average census for the adults is currently 22 or 23 patents and the average length of stay is 25-34 days for adults and 9-15 days for children. THere were 429 total admissions last year and 446 this year. However, there have also been 444 discharges this year as well, so these figures reflect the brevity of hospitalization in these times.
Pharmacist Leann Griner reported on the new Automated Pharmaceutical Dispensing System which has been installed at the Cherokee MHI. She said that Cherokee is the first MHI in the state to use this system and she finds it to be very effective with control of inventory as well as cost control, and she is looking forward to the next step of implementing electronic ordering of medication.
Griner also hopes that the system will allow her to have more of a physical presence on the patient wards than the pharmacist has had in past years.