Salt Lake County Council lambastes Valley Mental Health's handling of patient cuts, orders system audit
Neilson said changes to the county's mental health system had stressed VMH's ability to provide services, despite the best efforts of practitioners. "Valley can't afford to bend any more. They broke."
Julie Hardle, manager of recovery and resiliency for OptumHealth, said she, too, has been a consumer of mental health services. She is in recovery, having once been diagnosed with a serious, persistent mental illness and hospitalized seven times.
"I do have a lot experience with crisis, what crisis means, as well as the anxiety of change and how that affects a person," Hardle said.
But Hardle said the transition of moving from VMH providers to other providers has been difficult for some patients. "There are many other experiences people are having where they feel supported and they're making the transition," she said.
As VMH has reduced services, OptumHealth has attempted to place them with other mental health providers or help them appeal VMH's decision to longer serve them.
Bays said some 730 letters have been mailed to VMH clients. "Fifty-eight appeals have been made and one-third of those have been granted," she said.
Larcenaire said VMH "has stopped sending letters until we are assured that the current clients are successfully transitioned."
VMH undergoes some 20 reviews each year as required by state, federal and local mental health authorities, Lercenaire said. It will cooperate with the system evaluation approved by the county on Tuesday. OptumHealth has likewise promised to comply with auditors.
Council Chairman Steve DeBry said the council looks forward to a comprehensive review of the county's funding of mental health services and an evaluation of services.
"We all want answers. We all want to know what's going on and why," he said.
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