Story By: Spencer Porden-News
State legislators heard from a variety of groups at a legislative forum on Tuesday, hosted by the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.
Mike McCafferty, CEO of Sheridan Memorial Hospital, approached the legislators with his concerns with how Title 25 patients, those under an involuntary hold, are dealt with. The hospital incurs a great cost and has been forced to stretch their resources thin in order to deal with the influx of patients and lack of funding from the state, which cut the health department budget in 2017.
McCafferty said that 15-20 of the Title 25 patients they take per year are considered to be “beyond hospital control,” and need to be transferred immediately to properly-equipped facilities. However, available beds at the Wyoming Behavioral Institute and the State Hospital can have up to a 3 month wait for new patients due to insufficient funding.
CEO of the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center, Paul Demple, approached the panel with his own concerns about the state’s behavioral health crisis. Demple said that the average amount the Mental Health Center receives for the services they provide is $44, while the average cost to supply those services is $125 per patient. He said that the answer lies within change of the Wyoming Department of Health policies.
Jeff Holsinger, CEO of Volunteers of America of the Northern Rockies (VOA), approached the legislators with concerns of behavioral health services as well. Despite rising costs and demands, VOA has not received an increase in funding in the last 10 years. Holsinger says they get funding from the federal government to help offset costs, but get no funding from the state when they incur patients that would otherwise be incarcerated in state institutions. Holsinger said that the VOA is ready to provide the services and infrastructure that the state needs if the state will provide funding for those patients.