Jones applauds CMH for first steps; encourages continued measures

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Thursday announced that he supports the Community Mental Health’s recently announced guidelines to improve interactions with families and patients who are experiencing psychiatric distress.

The actions are the result of a state review investigating a Charlotte teenager who killed himself just one day after not receiving services from a facility of the Community Mental Health (CMH) Authority of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties.

“Tragedy should not have to happen to open our eyes to the inefficiencies of our state departments and facilities,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I requested the investigation into Ian Hartley’s death after I learned he was turned away from getting the help that could have saved his life — all because of a conversation over private insurance.

“No one should be turned away from a CMH facility if they are having suicidal thoughts; they should be kept in a facility for further evaluation. When it comes to saving someone’s life, insurance paperwork should be that last thing on a CMH employee’s mind.”

At the conclusion of the review, CMH indicated that current procedures focused too much on verification of insurance, and they seek to correct this through the new guidelines.

Other changes coming to CMH facilities are: CMH will now encourage patients to stay for evaluation, regardless of their personal insurance situation; CMH will “strongly recommend” that a patient be transported by ambulance to a hospital or emergency room; and CMH staff will contact the hospital or emergency room before the patient arrives to discuss their case and safety risks.

“These are changes that I asked from the department in our initial meeting,” Jones said. “I applaud these much-needed efforts, but my hope is that the department realizes there is still a long way to go.”

Additionally, Jones has requested legislation that would create immediate equalized per-patient funding for every CMH facility.

“I don’t believe the people of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties should receive less per-patient funding to help their residents in need of mental health issues than the patients in Oakland or Kent counties,” Jones said. “Across the state, every CMH should receive equal per-patient funding. No one deserves less.”

Jones said he will continue to work on future legislation that seeks the best care and attention possible to the state’s underserved mental health population.