‘Black Listed’ Lakeshore Patients Will Remain in State Care

Kristi Nelson has reports on Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans to close Lakeshore Mental Health Institute at Knoxville, one beginning with the observation that the Legislature seems likely to accept the new arrangement and the other on legislator questioning about a “black list” of Lakeshore patients deemed too “challenging” for the private hospitals that will take over care of most state-paid patients.
Excerpt from the latter report:
At a Feb. 8 state House committee meeting, Knoxville Reps. Steve Hall and Joe Armstrong both asked Commissioner of Mental Health Douglas Varney about a “blacklist” that allegedly allowed local psychiatrist hospitals to turn away certain patients — patients, Armstrong said, Lakeshore Mental Health Institute has filled the “role” of taking in the past.
“Effectively, we have not gotten rid of that ‘blacklist'” with the contracts that are currently in place, Armstrong said, echoing concerns advocates, families and Lakeshore employees have voiced at various public meetings
. “We’ve had multiple meetings talking about issues like blacklisting,” Varney told committee members, adding that “admissions policies” will be addressed in the new contracts with providers.
Varney said he envisioned beds at Middle Tennessee State Mental Health Institute in Nashville, where patients will be sent if local providers can’t handle them, as a “safety valve” for patients who meet very specific criteria — not as a dumping ground.
Tony Spezia, CEO of Covenant Health, which owns Peninsula, said it has been taking “more challenging patients” all along. “We’ve essentially been seeing Lakeshore patients for a number of years,” as the state facility has downsized, Spezia said. “Our admissions have been three times what Lakeshore’s are.”

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