Report: Delaware making progress in addressing Psychiatric Center problems

Delaware is getting praise for making progress in reforming conditions that affected patient care at the Delaware Psychiatric Center, according to a new report. 

A monitor was named last summer to review Delaware’s steps toward reaching the conditions of a settlement agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice.  The agreement followed allegations in a News Journal series of deplorable patient care at the psychiatric center.  Delaware was given a five-year time period to implement the conditions of the settlement agreement. 

“The State is working effectively to meet the requirements of its specific provisions, including those that were scheduled for achievement during this reporting period and those that require preparatory actions in order to meet upcoming target dates,” Court Monitor Robert Bernstein said in the summary of his first report, which was issued earlier this week.

The initial report also makes note of what Bernstein called a current service framework that “reflects an accumulation of decades of bureaucratic ‘fixes,’ and programs that are more structured around reimbursement than effective service delivery.”  Bernstein added that “the system is plagued by complex, shifting and sometimes redundant administrative responsibilities that are spread across various departments, divisions and organizations, making it prone to unintended harmful and wasteful consequences.”

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State officials indicated last July that the state would focus more on community-based treatment and less on institutionalized care when it came to serving people who have what are termed “serious and persistent mental illnesses.”

Bernstein also indicated in the report that it’s too soon to predict the ultimate success of Delaware’s efforts.  However, he praised Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf and Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director Kevin Huckshorn for “creating a climate for collaboration toward meaningful change, and applauds the stakeholders at all levels whose dedication and innovation can make the important goals of the Settlement Agreement a reality.”

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