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Records: Behavioral health centers deal with staff shortages

September 10, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Complaints filed with a West Virginia state agency say ResCare Agency facilities are struggling with staffing issues that include missed doctors’ appointments and medication being administered incorrectly.

The company provides care for people with extreme physical and mental disabilities, among other services.

Most of the nine substantiated complaints filed with the state Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification since last year are attributed to some sort of staffing shortages, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Monday. One says a lack of supervision allowed a patient to run away. Another says patients are commonly told their doctors’ appointments have been “cancelled due to staffing issues.”

At a ResCare facility in Parkersburg, a nurse found a patient lying on the floor dead in March. The cause of death remains unclear from the information in the complaint filed in April, but there was evidence of problems with staffing and training, according to records. The facility didn’t correctly administer medications and check on the patient frequently enough, according to the complaint. Staff also did not notify the physician after the patient had adverse reactions to prescribed medication.

At the Northside Group Home in Martinsburg, many people missed doctors’ appointments for reasons cited such as “cancelled due to staffing issues” or “cancelled due to transportation issues.” A clinical supervisor confirmed this even though she was aware appointments shouldn’t be cancelled for those reasons, the complaint said.

From 2012 to 2016, the state agency confirmed 32 complaints among 10 West Virginia ResCare agencies. Staffing issues included accusations of neglect and sexual abuse.

A ResCare spokeswoman told the newspaper that the company could not comment on the situations mentioned due to federal privacy laws. She said the company is working to identify recruitment and retention solutions to ensure staffing needs are met.

Disability Rights of West Virginia legal director Jeremiah Underhill suspects the workers’ low pay may be the root of staffing problems.

“If you pay $11 an hour instead of $9, you’re going to see a different caliber of work,” Underhill said. “You’ll get people who show up for work and care about their job.”

Mark Drennan, the executive director of the West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association, said Medicaid would probably have to adjust its rates for private companies such as ResCare to be able to increase pay.

But for Underhill, the state is not the one to blame in this situation. He believes the providers earn enough to increase workers’ wages.

ResCare’s revenue had been $54 million in 2015, according to financial reports. The company had the second-highest profit of $8.9 million after expenses were taken out, according to 2015 financial reports.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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