October 30th, 2009
Reports the Tribune-Review:
In the future, mental health services in Westmoreland County will be geared to treating people within the community rather than in hospitals.
But the question remains as to how the county will pay for those services in a cash-strapped economy and tight state budget.
Kathy Wohlgemuth, director of the Westmoreland County MH/MR program, told a group of mental health workers and agency directors Thursday that providers need to find more cost-effective ways to treat the mentally ill because government funding has not kept pace with costs.
The program about the future of mental health services in the county was held at the Four Points Sheraton and featured Estelle B. Richman, state secretary of Public Welfare. It was sponsored by Mental Health America of Westmoreland County.
For example, Wohlgemuth said clients will be housed in apartments rather than in group homes because rentals cost less. There are plans to expand outpatient clinics to the county’s 17 school districts.
How the county will pay for more community-based services is an issue, said Donald Goughler, president of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania.
Goughler said services are more readily available, but “I’m worried about the future of mental health service delivery.”
He said payments do not cover treatment costs, and that is creating stress on the system. Psychiatric services are reimbursed for only three-fourths of the actual costs, he noted.
Find out more at the Tribune-Review.