Assessment Of Behavioral Health Services  

By Daniel Hirshey

On August 23, Anne Albrink and Daniel Hirshey had a face to face meeting with Mr. Mike Katzenstein, the consultant hired by CSV to perform an assessment of Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital Behavioral Health Services.  On August 28, Betty Sisneros Shover met with him via telephone.  Here are some brief summaries of what we discussed:

  • We pointed out that there seems to be a disconnect between what is being relayed to ER staff by families and first responders in relation to admittance into the BHU. We expressed a desire for ER staff to seek out information from the families and first responders and take it into account during evaluations. We cited several of the examples from the public forum of people in dire need, being turned away despite the concerns of law enforcement and the families.
  • We also discussed concerns about how CSV’s methodology for applying the criteria for admittance into the BHU puts BH intakes, their loved ones and the community at risk when they are in need and not admitted
  • We pointed out issues with the level of training with the ER staff in dealing with BH patients and families
  • We pointed out the long, often unattended waits of patients being brought in for BH evaluations
  • We called his attention to the issues surrounding the BH isolation room; including cleanliness.
  • We discussed the challenges of treating and assessing BH patients and substance abuse treatment, and the challenges in addressing the substance abuse component within the current framework.
  • We discussed the concerns about the number of beds and the reality that the BHU is rarely at capacity.
  • We discussed the need for follow up coordination upon release from the BHU
  • We expressed our desire for CSV to more actively involve themselves in community organizations and initiatives. When he asked what we thought the role of the hospital ought to be, we told him we would like a functioning BHU and more communication and integration within the community to determine what the needs of the community were in order to work together on meeting those needs.
  • We stressed the importance of having a functional intake process and BHU for our immediate community and the surrounding area.
  • We noted that CSV was generous with community funding and had awarded a grant to NAMI Santa Fe a couple of years ago
  • We expressed our desire to have CSV participate in implementing Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) and Treatment Guardianship, which they do not do today.

If anyone has any questions or wants more detail, feel free to email:

Daniel Hirshey dan.hirshey@gmail.com, Anne Albrink aalbrink@newmexico.com, Betty Shover betty.shover@comcast.net.