County leaders throughout Colorado reply to Thoughts Springs Well being CEO’s resignation

Sharon Raggio, CEO and president of Thoughts Springs Well being, has resigned her place.
Dean Humphrey/Courtesy picture

Thoughts Springs President and CEO Sharon Raggio stepped down Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Her resignation after 14 years within the place comes after the Colorado Information Collaborative and its information companions statewide printed an investigative story outlining how the nonprofit has failed Coloradans needing care within the 10 Western Slope counties it’s contracted with the state to serve. That story is a part of a broader investigation into issues with Colorado’s psychological well being safety-net system.

The article about Thoughts Springs detailed how the Grand Junction-based neighborhood psychological well being middle — one among 17 regional facilities statewide — has not been clear about the place and the way it’s spending state and federal tax {dollars}.

In an electronic mail Tuesday morning, Raggio gave little element concerning the specifics of her resignation however mentioned the seek for a brand new CEO was underway.

“Within the wake of latest media consideration, I really feel that my continued presence inside the group might act as a distraction from our core mission of delivering distinctive psychological well being and habit restoration care to the communities we serve,” Raggio wrote. “It’s my honest hope that by making this modification now, at the beginning of the brand new yr, the group can transfer ahead in a constructive, productive method and totally think about the necessary work of saving lives.”

Thoughts Springs Chief Monetary Officer Doug Pattison will lead the group till the CEO place is completely stuffed. The announcement famous that he previously labored as chief monetary officer for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo.

Thoughts Springs is liable for offering psychological well being look after Medicaid recipients and people who find themselves indigent, underinsured and in disaster in Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.

On Tuesday, commissioners in a number of of these counties referred to as for higher psychological well being assets of their mountain or rural communities, although their experiences with Thoughts Springs different broadly.

Officers in Summit County have described nightmare eventualities with Thoughts Springs, which had been detailed within the COLab article. Requested about Raggio’s resignation, Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue mentioned Tuesday that “One particular person didn’t create this technique and one particular person’s resignation isn’t going to repair it.”

“The folks that I do know in my neighborhood who’re struggling to entry behavioral well being providers deserve care that’s compassionate and fast and applicable to no matter their wants are,” Pogue mentioned.

“What I don’t need to have occur is that this dialog turns into solely (about) the CEO of Thoughts Springs,” Pogue continued. “I hope all of the leaders which have a voice on this dialog will acknowledge how a lot work nonetheless actually must be executed.”

Pogue is amongst 51 county commissioners, 4 human service administrators and one sheriff — Summit’s Jaime FitzSimons — from all through Colorado who’ve signed on to a letter to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis asking him to take fast motion on reforming Colorado’s psychological well being safety-net system and extra carefully regulate the 17 regional neighborhood psychological well being facilities statewide.

The letter particularly asks Polis to nominate a standing group to reform the way in which the facilities pay their psychological well being staff, including extra transparency and accountability to the method. Commissioners who signed on additionally requested for the state to rent multiple company to deal with native psychological well being wants.

“The necessity for behavioral well being care is simply too nice, and the packages too various for anybody entity to cowl by themselves,” the letter states.

Routt County Commissioner Tim Redmond mentioned he was pissed off when first informed concerning the issues with Thoughts Springs, as taxpayers fund providers that folks in disaster can not entry for weeks, if not longer.

“Folks on this neighborhood pay their taxes and people providers needs to be there and accessible for them,” he mentioned. “If (Thoughts Springs) can’t present them for us, then we have now to search out one other means to supply these providers for our neighborhood.”

Redmond mentioned his greatest concern with the issues uncovered within the COLab article was the period of time purchasers in disaster have needed to wait to obtain care.

“For those who’re suicidal, it could possibly take you 11 days to get an appointment,” Redmond mentioned. “That’s simply not acceptable.”

Redmond mentioned that earlier than Raggio’s resignation, she provided to fulfill with county commissioners, reply questions and talk about the nonprofit’s funds. Now, Redmond wonders if the assembly remains to be well worth the county’s time.

“The place is that cash going, and what’s it supporting and the way do you justify that?” Redmond requested. “The system is damaged, and the amount of cash that Colorado spends and what it will get in return is simply a humiliation.”

In Eagle County, officers have been so dissatisfied with Thoughts Springs’ care that they quietly cut up from the middle and created their very own within the fall. Summit County additionally plans to interrupt from Thoughts Springs and be a part of Eagle County’s new group, which is the primary new neighborhood psychological well being middle created in Colorado in a long time. Eagle County has no intention to align its new middle with the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, the highly effective commerce group that lengthy has lobbied for the facilities to keep away from nearer scrutiny and tighter regulation by the state.

In Pitkin and Grand counties, nonetheless, commissioners mentioned their experiences with native Thoughts Springs providers had been principally constructive.

“We’ve been usually very proud of the state of affairs of the therapy for psychological well being and substance abuse points throughout the county,” Pitkin County Commissioner Steve Baby mentioned.

Baby mentioned the county has revamped its psychological well being providers system and that Thoughts Springs got here to the desk with useful options.

“It didn’t simply occur by magic,” Baby mentioned. “It took a number of work by lots of people to get to that time, and Thoughts Springs was one of many companions.”

Nonetheless, Baby believes Raggio’s resignation will assist the group higher serve the realm.

“I personally favored (Raggio) and can be unhappy to see her go, however I feel it’s a superb determination,” Baby mentioned. “Hopefully, another person can resolve these points that may be fairly worrisome.”

In Grand County, Commissioner Richard Cimino mentioned Thoughts Springs’ native suppliers have been useful to his constituents, however he believes issues stemmed from higher management.

“I believed that it was applicable for (Raggio) to tender her resignation,” Cimino mentioned. “I feel the group will get an amazing quantity of funding from the state and has not been clear concerning the makes use of of the funds.”

Cimino pointed to an array of things he sees as contributing to larger charges of despair and suicide within the mountain communities of a state that ranks among the many nation’s worst for charges of psychological sickness and entry to psychological well being care: excessive prices of housing, aggressive environments and an absence of publicly funded social-service packages.

“Once you reside within the lovely mountains, individuals surprise how arduous life can actually be up there,” Cimino mentioned. “It’s type of arduous to get state and federal help after we reside in lovely resort communities.”

Commissioners from Moffat and Rio Blanco counties didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark Tuesday, and a commissioner from Jackson County mentioned he couldn’t remark by publishing time, as he wished extra time to familiarize himself with the difficulty.

In Mesa County, Commissioner Janet Rowland downplayed Raggio’s resignation, noting that she was planning to retire in June anyway. Rowland mentioned her county is worked up to have been awarded a $400,000 state grant to fill in a few of the holes in Thoughts Springs’ protection.

Thoughts Springs, within the meantime, has employed a Denver-based public relations firm to work at the side of Stephanie Keister, its personal full-time spokesperson.

Keister in early December promised details about Thoughts Springs’ spending that she nonetheless has not delivered, and questions stay amongst county commissioners, psychological well being watchdogs and the information media concerning the spending priorities of a corporation that, through the greatest psychological well being disaster in trendy historical past, has been turning individuals away from care or asking them to attend as much as 11 months for appointments, COLab discovered.

Keister mentioned late Tuesday that nobody from the group was accessible to speak about what, if any, reforms the group plans to make underneath a brand new CEO.

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