536 Donuts Later…
by Mark Scaramella, June 8, 2016
The June 30 deadline for the County’s conversion from Ortner Management Group (OMG) to Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) is just a few weeks away now. The County will exchange a very bad privatized adult mental health outfit from Yuba City for another private outfit based in Ukiah.
Most of what the County lists as necessary for the transfer are still incomplete — extremely incomplete as in un-done. The “tasks” to be done are almost all vague-to-meaningless, so much so that no rational person could nail them down as “complete” in any objective sense, and they are generally irrelevant to the mentally ill themselves anyway.
In return for millions of public dollars donated to him by Mendocino County, Mr. Ortner hasn't delivered mental health services. Well, here and there, you could say he's delivered a service or two. Objectively, however, your on-the-ground mental health professional is a friendly face from law enforcement. Will the private Ukiah outfit get 'er done? Doubt it. (Nothing effective is likely until the Sheriff's sales-tax funded facility is up and running.) The entire privatized apparatus runs on insurance coverage of one kind or another and the people who need the most help don’t have any.
The transition task list and the separate “implementation schedule” were updated again this month for the upcoming Monday, June 6, Board of Supervisors meeting; the updates are almost all of zero relevance to the actual transfer, much less the people they’re supposed to help.
Here we go, folks, a progress report on the Transition Plan. Donuts front and center. Begin gobble: In process of recruiting… working on… conversation with… developing brochures for… creating new posters… researching other options… need MOU… need consent form… in conversation… notice to pharmacies sent (and additional notices will be sent…), will meet with… met with… to clarify… RQMC had a training (no topic mentioned)… another training on electronic assessments and client plans… Conversations… In process… In progress… Meeting scheduled… Scheduling meeting…
There are a few objective tasks which they say are done that might help a little, but they are only a small part of a larger picture that remains disjointed and uncoordinated for the estimated 200 to 500 Ortner clients. (A difference of several million public dollars!)
That the actual number of "clients" eludes specification, and it is an indication of how big a hole the transferers have to climb out of to even get back to the muddled pre-privatization status quo.
Can anybody say, “Time for a criminal investigation?”
RQMC, the private Ukiah mental health outfit, does claim to have obtained a new building for crisis services and they claim to have hired nine new crisis workers (no indication of whether from Ortner or not). And even that is a bad thing because once these people are entrenched, a shift to the Sheriff's conceptually superior and entirely public mental health center will be that much more complicated. RQMC, like the Yuba City pirate, Ortner, is not going to want to get off the public dollar gravy train. There’s also an agreement with “Restpadd” for two beds — that’s right, two whole beds — for "July or August" (apparently they don’t even know specifically when).
The County's “mental health management team” says they finally have sent a letter sent to Ortner telling Ortner what records and paperwork the County wants. The letter itself was sent a month late and nobody knows if Ortner will deign to respond. We doubt that Ortner management knows what their own staff was doing with the documentation. So it will probably be a rude surprise when it finally arrives. If it arrives.
What Ortner needs, and certainly has coming, is subpoenas from DA Eyster. This whole show reeks of fraud.
The County's Mental Health Team has also finally finalized a contract amendment for Ortner to cease accepting new adult services clients on June 7. This “accomplishment” hardly seems worth mentioning. But the day grows late and all the frosted donuts have been consumed.
The County has hired a new Laura’s Law coordinator who started on May 23rd. This doesn't have anything to do with Ortner or the transfer, yet it’s on the list of done things. And as far as we know there’s been only one person who has even applied for Laura’s Law and that person remains unapproved.
Under “Electronic Health Records (EHR)” there are no actual “records,” just a bit of progress on the new (and as yet untested) software the County spent a lot for just to automate the records that the County-chosen professional company — Ortner — didn't even have in place to begin with.
Most galling is this item:
“OMG Amendment No 8: presented simultaneously on the Board’s agenda for consideration is an amendment to the existing OMG contract that reflects the transition of various services according to the Mental Health Services – Adult Services Transition Plan. This amendment reflects an increase in the current contract maximum of $7,620,000 by $400,000, for a new maximum of $8,020,000 and also stipulating that OMG will no longer accept new adult mental health clients as of June 1, 2016; but will continue to serve all current clients and those needing emergency medication support services through June 30, 2016. This amendment also reflects a request from OMG for an increase to their existing contract maximum of $400,000 ($150,000 County commitment and $250,000 FFP) based upon their year-end budget projections. The agreement stipulates that OMG will only receive this increase amount if these costs are incurred through the actual delivery of services.”
Basically, this just gives Ortner an additional $400k for (not) doing what they were already contracted to do. And which Ortner has not done.
Ortner will even get another $64k post termination bonus to rub it in a little further: “OMG Short Term Services/Month-to-Month Agreement (July 1, 2016 – October 31, 2016): HHSA staff are finalizing the contract with OMG for the additional four (4) months from July 1, 2016 - October 31, 2016 ($16,000 per month, for a total of $64,000 that is budgeted for in fiscal year 2016-17). OMG made this request to provide funding for the necessary billing and associated administrative services remaining from the original ASO contract. The contract will be on the Board’s June 21, 2016, agenda for consideration.”
Put the gun down, Ortner. We ain't got no more tax money to give you for your "services."
If this were anywhere but Mendocino County, it would be criminal. But.....