Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility is under scrutiny from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after two federal audits revealed multiple violations and deficiencies within the facility.
The CMS conducted an inspection last January and cited the hospital for various infringements, including failure to report the death of a restrained and secluded man, undocumented controlled substances missing from the pharmacy, food sanitation concerns and other Medicare code infractions. Following a second audit in early August, Ann Detrick — director of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services — drafted a “master plan” proposal to address the institute’s violations.
Detrick said the correctional plan will allow the hospital to provide better services for its patients.
“Being able to provide the best care to people with mental illness is the mission of our department — that is why we are making sure the plan of correction is being implemented,” Detrick said. “We are continuously looking to improve our services. As the director and on behalf of our staff, we are very dedicated to providing acute psychiatric care to people in our county; our efforts are directed toward making sure that service remains for the residents of Santa Barbara County.”
According to CMS Survey and Certification Manager Rufus Arther, the hospital could lose Medicare funding, which accounts for 21 percent of the facility’s revenue, if it fails to comply with CMS requirements.
“Medicare funding is a very large aspect of their revenue,” Arther said. “If in fact their funding were to be terminated, it would be an operational decision on their part as to what they want to do.”
Arther said the organization will conduct an unannounced inspection within the next 30 days to determine if the SBPH is now operating in accordance with the code.
“They get an opportunity to correct the violations,” Arther said. “It is now a question of the unannounced visit they will face, to see if the problems we previously identified have been corrected.”
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors oversees the local hospital through the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Services. According to 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, the facility has taken the necessary steps to correct the infractions.
“At this point in time, I do not think we will be losing any funding from this; [the hospital] brought in an outside consultant to tell them everything they have to do to pass the audit,” Farr said. “It is important to remember that the psychiatric hospital has always passed these checks.”
The hospital provides numerous mental health services unavailable elsewhere, Farr said.
“This facility is really important; we are always looking for ways to assist families and family members with mental health and substance abuse issues,” Farr said. “We want to maximize our resources to make sure everyone who needs it gets help.”
According to Arther, the facility’s standing rests on the results of the upcoming inspection.