Salt Lake County shakes up mental healthcare contract? | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Salt Lake County shakes up mental healthcare contract?

Posted By on September 21, 2010, 11:24 AM

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Is Salt Lake County about to award the administrative part of its gigantic mental health-care contract to a company other than Valley Mental Health?---

The contract, which including Medicaid matching funds is worth close to $50 million annually, has been the subject of intense controversy and speculation in the mental health-care community since last October, when Valley CEO Debra Falvo announced sweeping changes throughout the nonprofit organization—allegedly without consulting county officials first. In May, City Weekly ran a cover story, Mental Hell at Valley Mental Health, which showed how some of the closures and lay-offs pushed through by Valley had resulted in what some clients described as significant reduction in both services and quality of support.

If true, the move would come as a surprise to Valley watchers after the contract, viewed by community experts as too large for any other local health-care provider to take on, was put out for bid several months ago. Valley insiders had assumed this meant it would once more be the sole provider of services to the mentally ill in Salt Lake County.

Several sources close to the mental health-care community expect Valley to continue to provide clinical services even if they lose the administrative contract, despite fears among clinicians, sparked by a letter, according to one Valley watcher, from Falvo to Valley employees, warning that more job losses may be forthcoming because of the appointment of an independent administrator.

Quite what this would mean for Falvo and her administrative team isn't clear. Calls to the county's mental health services director Tim Whalen, Falvo, Valley spokesperson Connie Hines and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Carroon had not been returned by the time of posting this blog.

One industry insider identified the new player in Utah's mental health-care scene as United Behaviorial Health. A phone number listed on its website for media enquiries went to a tax office.

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