Conditional status lifted at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo

DENVER (November 3, 2017)—The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) lifted the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo’s (CMHIP) conditional status Wednesday after the 449-bed hospital was able to demonstrate the necessary required staffing levels.

On June 5, CMS issued a finding of “immediate jeopardy” at CMHIP, citing staffing levels that the federal agency believed negatively impacted patients. The state-run facility immediately put a corrective plan into place, implementing temporary measures to increase staff coverage, revise work schedules, require mandatory overtime, freeze annual leave and expedite hiring. The “immediate jeopardy” status was lifted on June 22 and replaced with a “conditional” status, which called for additional monitoring and inspections.

CMS inspectors visited CMHIP between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 and determined the facility meets patient care standards and is in full compliance with conditions for hospital operations as outlined by federal guidelines.

“CMS’ decision is the result of CMHIP’s dedicated and hardworking staff, who prioritize high-quality patient care above all,” said Robert Werthwein, director of CDHS’ Office of Behavioral Health, which oversees CMHIP. “Their willingness to work long hours, pick up extra shifts, and go the extra mile to
support each other paid off. I am proud of their great work and looking forward to our continued team effort to deliver quality care for our patients and a positive work environment for everyone on our team.”

As part of CMHIP’s efforts to address staffing levels, in June the hospital temporarily closed a program (CIRCLE Program) for people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. That program remains closed. CDHS continues to work closely with legislative partners, community leaders, and stakeholders to explore options to relocate the program into the community. Governor Hickenlooper’s proposed FY 2018-19 budget includes a line item to transfer funding for the CIRCLE Program and allow CDHS to solicit proposals to operate the program in the community and maximize other public and private revenue sources.

Along with efforts to reverse CMS’s June findings, CMHIP has approved annual leave for nursing department staff as well as wage increases for certain classified nursing positions, making the positions competitive with prevailing market wages. Wage increases for all direct care positions at CDHS 24-hour facilities, including CMHIP, were also included in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget for the coming fiscal year. The facility continues to undergo a culture transformation, gathering staff input and meeting individually with more than 100 hospital employees so far to continue improving
conditions.

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