Financial situation of mental health units expected to improve

PLATTSBURGH A financial adjustment at the state level is expected to benefit the mental health units of CVPH Medical Center. In a press release issued by the CVPH administration Thursday morning, hospital president and chief executive officer Stephens M. Mundy said a portion of the medical centers appeal to revise its rate schedule was approved last week. Mundy said the state Department of Health Division of Health Care Financing approved a change to the CVPH rate schedule that will annually add approximately $500,000 to the revenue generated by the two mental health units to cover unreimbursed physician costs. This is wonderful news for the patients and their families who utilize the adult and child and adolescent mental health units, Munday stated. Its a positive for the community, the medical center and most of all for the outstanding people who staff the two units. The units have reportedly experienced significant losses recently, primarily because of inadequate reimbursement by the state for patients covered by Medicaid, approximately 40 percent of the total volume. In 2007, the units lost $1.5 million, a figure that was worsened by the need to hire temporary professionals whose salaries were significantly more than employed psychiatrists. With the commitment made by the board of directors at its meeting on Tuesday to support and sustain these two units, we believe that we can successfully recruit desperately need psychiatrists and support personnel, Mundy stated. When news of the rate appeals to the state Office of Mental Health and Department of Health became public last November, the hospital administration reported retention of staff became challenging and recruitment became almost impossible. Last week, CVPH temporarily closed its child and adolescent mental health unit when the hospitals only full-time child psychiatrist took a medical leave of absence. The unit is expected to reopen in mid-July. A second appeal with the state that would make volume adjustments to Medicaid rates is still pending. If approved, that would prevent approximately $150,000 in revenue declines annually. In a memorandum that went to employees of the two mental health units Wednesday, Mundy wrote, It is now up to all of us to nurture and grow our mental health programs. There is a need and there is great potential. Our task is to meet that need in such a way that our patients, community, staff and the medical center all benefit. Over the past four years, the two mental health units have combined to average approximately 940 patient discharges annually.

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