Challenges continue in mental healthcare facility transition


POSTED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 7:42pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 8:46pm

Wednesday was the third day under new management at Southwest Counseling Center and the new leadership continues addressing transitional issues.

La Frontera Arizona CEO Dan Ranieri, Ph.D., was in town Wednesday to meet with staff and continue the takeover process.

"I think we learned some pretty quick lessons here," Ranieri said of the challenges the facility has encountered.

The change in leadership comes after a statewide audit found evidence of possible fraud at 15 facilities totaling $36 million.

CEOs of those companies were then removed.

At Southwest Counseling Center, the first facility to undergo the transition process more than 95 percent of employees signed on with La Frontera.

Ranieri said all employees at Southwest Counseling Center were offered contracts.

"Everybody except for leadership," he said.

The more than 100 employees carried over will have to start new with the company and will lose vacation days accrued through Southwest Counseling Center.

"I'm assuming they will get compensated for that but that's between them and Southwest," Ranieri said.

Those employees that did sign contracts will receive benefits package from La Frontera.

Ranieri said insurance coverage began on the employee's hire date which was Monday.

While the former CEO at Southwest says the facility served about 2000 patients, the lack of data is making it difficult to determine if they are properly staffed.

The center currently has no computers as they wait for a new system to be installed.

"We don't have a list of everybody's name or their job description or their rate of pay," Ranieri said. "We don't have any of that stuff."

Accessing patient files is also a challenge.

Medical records are part of Southwest Counseling's system and cannot be retrieved unless the patient gives their consent.

The center was also unable to dispense medicine Tuesday due to not having a pharmacy license under the new company name.

The New Mexico Human Services Department said La Frontera was given an emergency provision that allows them to continue dispensing medications while they apply for a new license.

Officials at La Frontera said the license application was sent Wednesday afternoon but the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy had not received the documents by the end of the day.

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