State won’t appeal demerit of psych hospital

LAS VEGAS — State officials decided not to appeal an independent accrediting agency’s low marks of a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital and instead plan to wait for the organization to take an entirely fresh look at the much-scrutinized facility.

Nevada health and human services chief Mike Willden said Thursday he’s disappointed by the Joint Commission’s decision last week to give Rawson-Neal a “preliminary denial of accreditation,” which indicated problems that would lead to loss of accreditation.

But the process of appealing the decision — which appeared to be based on the commission’s last full site survey in May — wouldn’t account for improvements made since May, he said.

“Rather than pursue an appeal, Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services plans to request a new accreditation review in the near future when the hard work and great effort to improve services for our patients will be considered and recognized by the Joint Commission,” Willden said in a statement.

The hospital is no longer accredited by the Joint Commission, as of Friday. Willden noted accreditation is voluntary and doesn’t affect the hospital’s ability to bill Medicare or Medicaid.

Rawson-Neal has been criticized since The Sacramento Bee first published the story of James Brown, who had been discharged from the hospital to a Greyhound bus in February and ended up disoriented in Sacramento, Calif., where he had no support system.

Since then, state health officials said they’ve strengthened their discharge policies, increased oversight and sought outside opinions on how to improve operations. Several employees were disciplined or fired in the fallout.

On Wednesday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval formally requested a meeting of the legislative Interim Finance Committee, which could speed up the authorization of funds that are already budgeted for improvements in Nevada’s mental health system.

Mary Woods, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services, said that losing the accreditation won’t have a tangible effect on treatment and services.

“It’s a nice stamp of approval to receive and that’s why we do plan to seek it out again,” she said. “But without it — it’s not going to affect our operations.”

On its website, the Joint Commission said accreditation helps hospitals improve their services, provides a competitive edge in the marketplace and “makes a strong statement to the community about an organization’s effort to provide the highest quality services.”

The commission said that in some markets, accreditation is a prerequisite for private insurance reimbursement eligibility. Woods said that because Rawson-Neal deals almost exclusively with Medicaid and Medicare patients, and it remains eligible to provide services to those patients, the lack of accreditation shouldn’t pose a payment obstacle.


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