State Capitol News
3:13 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

State Hospital Fixes Problems, Keeps Federal Dollars

The state hospital is no longer in danger of losing its federal accreditation — or millions of dollars. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Credit abc15.com

Last year the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services found violations of regulations dealing with patient rights and nursing services at the mental hospital. That inspection followed reports that some patients were hurting themselves or others after not being properly monitored. In one case a patient died of complications of having swallowed multiple foreign objects. Federal officials told the state to fix the problems or lose federal dollars which make up about a fifth of the $30 million budget for the hospital's 120-bed civil commitment unit. The federal agency now says the major violations have been fixed. Cory Nelson, the health department's chief of behavioral health services said the inspection did what it was supposed to do.

“We appreciate the fact that outside entities come in and help us identify things that we may not see on a day-to-day basis. The survey process is simply part of an overall quality process that health care facilities utilize,” Nelson said.

The inspection was only of the civil commitment unit of the hospital where most of the patients were found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others. A separate unit is reserved for those who have been found “guilty but insane,” people who would otherwise be behind bars except for their mental condition. And, a third unit houses those who have served their time in prison for violent sexual offenses but are considered too dangerous to be back on the streets.