Interim CEO says he wants to increase transparency at Mind Springs

Doug Pattison, Mind Springs Health interim CEO

The interim chief operating officer of Mind Springs Health told the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Monday that he wants to increase transparency with the counties the nonprofit operates in.

Doug Pattison, who took over Mind Springs after the resignation of CEO and President Sharon Raggio last week, said he wants to hold meetings with commissioners across the provider’s 10-county coverage area.

“One of my initiatives that I’ll be undertaking here day five is increased transparency,” Pattison said in a meeting Monday with Routt County commissioners.

Raggio had been in the top job at Mind Springs for 14 years but resigned after the Colorado News Collaborative and its news partners statewide published an investigative story outlining how the nonprofit was failing Coloradans it was contracted with the state to serve.

The article about Mind Springs detailed how the Grand Junction-based community health center has not been transparent about where and how it is spending state and federal dollars.

“I want to have this be a collaboration, and we’re constantly in dialogue so that we can head some of these things off at the pass,” Pattison said. “If we don’t have communication, we don’t have transparency, we don’t have trust … that’s where a lot of these problems occur.”

Mind Springs is responsible for providing mental health care for Medicaid recipients and people who are indigent, underinsured and in crisis in Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield and Mesa counties.

While other counties, particularly Summit, have been outspoken in their displeasure with Mind Springs, Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said he didn’t have a good enough understanding of what the group did in Routt County.

“My issue isn’t so much dissatisfaction with the services as much as I actually don’t understand what those services are,” Corrigan said Monday.

Corrigan said the county’s attitude toward Mind Springs has been similar to how it handled public health before the pandemic. The county used to contract with Northwest Colorado Health for public health services but created its own department in the summer of 2020.

Gina Toothaker, Mind Springs outpatient program director for Routt and Jackson counties, said they served 644 Routt County residents in 2021 fiscal year, up seven patients from the year before. The number of services performed by Mind Springs was up about 4.5% in 2021 when compared to 2020.

Toothaker said these services would include therapy sessions, whether that be individual, family or group, as well as psychiatric evaluations. Mind Springs also has case managers that help clients access services.

“Those services are provided at our office, they’re provided in the schools, they’re provided at the jail,” she said, adding that some services are also funded by grants and not included in the figures shared Monday.

Commissioner Tim Redmond said he has heard complaints from local pharmacists about not being able to get prescriptions refilled for Mind Springs patients. Pattison said there was a reassignment of personnel last week that should help solve the issue, admitting there has been a breakdown in the process.

The nonprofit is also changing how it prescribes benzodiazepines, often used to treat anxiety, to a “safer policy,” Pattison said.

Commissioners did not take any action at the meeting but did express a desire to go over financial information in more depth. This financial information was not included with other data Mind Springs provided prior to the meeting but was emailed to commissioners during the discussion.

Prior to meeting with Mind Springs on Monday, Commissioner Beth Melton said Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland is pulling together commissioners across the 10-county region. One hope is that this group would have some input in the search process for the new Mind Springs CEO.

“I haven’t been involved in any conversations yet, but I’ve been invited,” Melton said. “I think it’ll be a good opportunity to try to advocate a little bit for improved level of service.”

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