In the wake of Valley Mental Health's decision to cut 2,000 clients from its roster this summer, upset patients are taking their case to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on Wednesday, July 10.
Letters went out July 1 from Valley's chief medical officer, Dr. Joseph Yau, to 450 clients, informing them that the agency was reducing its services. "For those who are doing well, we will stop providing services," Yau wrote in the letter, a copy of which a Valley client forwarded to City Weekly. "If you have an upcoming appointment with your VMH provider on or after August 1, 2013, it will be cancelled."
The letters instruct clients to call a 1-800 number and speak to an Optum Health representative to find another mental-health provider.
Valley is expected to cut up to 2,000 total clients by Sept. 1, following cuts to its budget imposed by Salt Lake County and Optum.
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10, Valley clients who have been cut from the list will join peers and mental-health advocates to present a letter to McAdams calling for the Salt Lake County Council to "reevaluate this crucial decision," according to the letter.
Ginger Phillips is a Valley client and mental-health advocate. In a press release, she stated, "We want to know what is happening with mental-health services in Salt Lake County and how the county is monitoring the services provided and measuring success. They have had two years to work with OptumHealth and show their progress. To have cuts at this point is extremely concerning."
Phillips told City Weekly that Valley clients she knew who had been cut by the agency felt "very sad" at receiving the letter and complained about its cold, matter-of-fact tone.
One client who had been in treatment for 10 years called the OptumHealth telephone number in the letter and was given three mental-health services providers to contact. Two of them could not fill her prescriptions, Phillips says, and the third had already been "flooded with calls," raising the concern that clients facing losing access to Valley might well struggle to find a replacement provider to meet their needs.