Mind Springs interim CEO meets with Eagle County commissioners

The mental health services provider addressed concerns about patient care quality and shared its new strategic plan

Mind Springs Health in Grand Junction, Colorado, on March 18. State officials withheld the findings of a pattern of “severe, life-threatening” prescription errors in an official investigation for more than nine months.
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A delegation from Mind Springs Health, led by Doug Pattison, the interim CEO and CFO, met Monday with the Eagle County Board of Commissioners to discuss the mental health center’s role in the community and address concerns about its quality of patient care.

This was the first time that Mind Springs had met with Eagle County commissioners since the resignation of former Mind Springs President and CEO Sharon Raggio in January. Raggio’s resignation came in the wake of an investigative report from the Colorado News Collaborative that detailed poor patient care and unaccountable spending, among other things. The Mind Springs representatives said they are reaching out to counties that they provide services to on the Western Slope to reestablish relationships and plan for the future.

Mike Nugent, the chief strategy officer for Eagle County, pressed Pattison about how the company is adapting in light of the recent allegations.

“The criticisms against Mind Springs have been broad, severe and sustained,” Nugent said. “Tell us about what you’ve learned from that, and what changes you’re making to your organization.”

Pattison said that in an organization that provides as many services to as many people as Mind Springs does — approximately 190,000 services to 12,000 people — “you’re gonna find a mistake along the way,” but he readily agreed that change was necessary for minimizing these errors.

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​​”One is too many,” Pattison said. “I know one is too many, and I know a lot of the things that we can do on a quality front, we are undertaking.”

Pattison identified the three cornerstones of Mind Springs’ strategic plan heading into the future: quality, access and transparency.

Doug Pattison is the CFO of Mind Springs and has assumed the role of interim CEO following Sharon Raggio’s resignation.
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He said that Mind Springs is currently seeking accreditation from The Joint Commission, an established international organization with strict standards for ensuring safe, high quality patient care.

“We’re aggressively seeking that accreditation, and a gap analysis will say: How can we do things better? What are the policies and procedures that need to be advanced? What is it that needs to change?”

Pattison also noted that Mind Springs officials have brought in a management team from Signet Health to step into operations at their hospital in Grand Junction and implement more efficient management practices.

For increasing access to care, Pattison said Mind Springs plans to overhaul its communications system and make more direct paths for people to book appointments and get in the door.

“Our front of the house, it is — I won’t say broken — but it is certainly not operating at peak efficiency,” Pattison said. “Our goal is from the first knock on the door asking for help, for them to have a therapy appointment within seven days, and if the knock on the door is for psychiatry for that to be 30 days.”

Transparency is the third pillar of Mind Springs’ new strategy. The December article from the Colorado News Collaborative noted that counties were not given access to any of the financial details of the company, and that the former CEO repeatedly claimed her organization did not keep electronic records in a way that it could figure out how much it spends per county.

Pattison refuted this claim, and said that from this point forward the company will be an open book when it comes to the money that comes in and goes out.

“I don’t think that we have been, as an organization, transparent,” Pattison said. “How much money do you get, where’s it going, where’s it spent — we have it, it’s not a secret. We keep our costs by county. We have our revenue, and I can follow up with you in as much detail as you want.”

The county commissioners and representatives were a unified front in emphasizing that the primary goal is to create a mental health landscape in Eagle County that meets the community’s needs in the most effective way. When Pattison brought up questions about how the emergence of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health will impact Mind Springs’ presence in the valley, Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney made it clear that when it comes to mental health providers, the more the merrier.

“We really feel there is a place for everybody,” McQueeney said. “What we want to do is have a conversation about whose role is each area — where is the right spot for Mind Springs, where is the right spot for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. I don’t think we’re putting anyone out of business. Unfortunately, in this climate that we have right now, we seem to need much more mental health. As a whole country, but here in particular.”

Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry agreed.

“What we want is for people to be able to call up and get an appointment and get in immediately, and not have this two weeks, two months, never get a call back — some of those horror stories we’ve heard that lead to really bad outcomes,” Chandler-Henry said. “I do think there’s room for lots of players to help meet those needs.”

Nugent also expressed satisfaction with the strategic plan that Pattison laid out in the meeting, and asked that the lines of communication remain open as the company and county navigate the changing landscape of mental health services in Eagle County.

“I think the organization is in a recovery mindset right now,” Nugent said. “I think the three strategic pillars are the right ones, they certainly reflect our concerns, and I would just ask that we continue to be informed.”

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