Secrecy Surrounding Proposed Maine Private Psychiatric Facility

A recent newspaper article from the Associated Press of August 13, 2018, just a week prior to the posting of this article by Marina Villeneuve, highlighted an interesting development in the state of Maine. This psychiatric commentator felt this was worthy of attention on a larger stage as it illustrates several issues regarding the continuing struggles in this country to try to come to terms with our three decades old national mental health service delivery crisis.

The article entitled, “Company fights to keep details of Bangor psychiatric home a secret,” concern the efforts of the Republican governor of Maine Mr. LePage and a Florida-based company, Correct Care Solutions, to keep secret the disclosure of its contracts, legal arrangements, staffing patterns and cost proposals surrounding the construction and operation of a 21 bed “residential psychiatric home” apparently for less acute psychiatric adult patients. This psychiatric residential home is to be operated by this private corporation for at least 10 years. It is to be located on the state campus of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor Maine for “some psychiatric patients who no longer need hospital care.” It appears as though there had been openly shared cordial agreement among the “Governor, lawmakers and (mental health) advocates” that the “secure residence could shorten waiting lists and ensure millions in jeopardized federal funding for a state psychiatric center that had lost federal certification” (in the recent past).

However apparently in the recent past, the previously shared intentions aims and objectives among the parties in Maine had run afoul of Correct Care’s wish to keep many of its issues, past history and proposals surrounding the construction of this facility secret. In spite of the fact that the company was notified by state agencies that all its proposals would be public documents, the company submitted many of its proposals amid expected secrecy or ‘confidence’ as the company termed it. But it did claim publicly is that its facility would cost taxpayers less in day-to-day per patient cost than the state’s two inpatient psychiatric centers. This is not a startling proposal as inpatient care is always much more expensive than non-hospital-based nonacute level care.

 

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Is Privatization of State Hospitals A Viable Solution?

An article by Annie  Gilbertson KPCC news  of Califorma that appeared yesterday, “California counties look to private firm to run new state psychiatric hospital, again takes a look at a solution that has been lingering in the wings of state legislatures and policy wonks for several years now, and that is of getting out of the business of running and financing state psychiatric hospitals altogether by the good old mechanism of “outsourcing.” Outsourcing has a decidedly mixed track record, with some successes in various industries, massive job losses in others. In some industries such as major passenger airlines big and small, outsourcing has had disastrous results. Some readers may be able recall vital passenger airplane  maintenance duties being outsourced to private companies to avoid higher union wage costs. The outsourcing companies would save the airlines money by employing lower-paid and as it turned out less well-trained technicians and cut corners such as quality control, with mixed and sometimes catastrophic results. Even the ‘business’ of war in the George Bush years saw the use out “outsourcing” which is some military experts’ opinions and views were nothing more than employing American mercenaries to fight in questionable military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the ill-fated romance with the firm Blackwater that turned out to be a mess?

The federal and state correctional systems have been utilizing corrections companies to run prisons for over two decades now. There are some very solid parallels between the prison “industry” and the state psychiatric hospital spheres. Both of these areas of operation of governmental entities have in the last several decades the huge costs of replacing dozens and dozens of aging, falling down, buildings and facilities built in the late 1800’s. I recall consulting at a state prison in my home state for several years. that prison was from the late 1800’s. Parchman prison in Louisiana is another very famous example of a prison from a different, not so ‘nice’ era.

Continue reading “Is Privatization of State Hospitals A Viable Solution?”