Task force weighs options on state facilities

By Kynli Smith

The Joint Executive and Legislative Task Force is still weighing options about the future of the Wyoming State Hospital, the Wyoming Life and Resource Center and the Wyoming Retirement Center.

According to the task force’s November 2014 interim report, the task force has four different options for the committee of health to recommend for legislation: Option 1A, Option 1B, Option 2 and Option 3.

Options 1A and 1B have a “one campus long streets” approach, Option 2 has a “status quo plus upgrades” approach and Option 3 has a “one facility” approach.

The task force is currently working on finalizing its recommendations to the Joint Labor, Health and Human Services Committee, which will then recommend changes in legislation to the state legislature.

Option 1A

Option 1A, which ranked No. 1 in order of preference by the task force, would integrate acute, intermediate and long-term care at the Wyoming State Hospital and the Wyoming Life and Resource Center.  In this option the Wyoming Retirement Center would be privatized or closed.

According to the report, the state hospital would focus on “acute crisis stabilization” and the Wyoming Life Resource Center would focus on “intermediate and long-term care.” The “safety-net” populations would also be prioritized in Option 1A.

That state’s “safety net” criteria is:

  • ABI/DD with exceptionally difficult behaviors
  • Title 25 and Title 7 commitments
  • Geriatric-psychiatric (gero-psych)
  • “Hard to place” clients
  • Emergency placements

The report stated in Option 1A that “the task force believes that restriction populations to the safety-net criteria will require some consolidation. Specifically maintaining a facility in Basin to provide long-term care to a handful of high medical and gero-psych clients will likely not be cost effective. Additionally, Basin is one of the more difficult locations to recruit qualified staff for the most difficult clients.”

According to Wyoming Department Health Spokesperson Kim Deti, 24 to 25 residents at Wyoming Retirement Center fit the state’s safety net criteria, with most of them fitting into the gero-psych or high medical portions of the criteria.

“There are about 71 residents at the WRC and of those residents about one third fit into the state’s criteria,” Deti said.

Option 1A, while ranked first in the task force’s preference, ranked second in estimated cost savings and listed the estimated capital requirements as “to be determined.”

Option 1B

In Option 1B all facilities would work together to treat populations requiring acute, intermediate or long-term care, according to the report. The facilities would remain in place, but the three facilities’ missions would be changed to focus on populations indentified by the task force as meeting the state’s “safety net” criteria.

The report stated that, “The Wyoming State Hospital would focus on acute crisis stabilization, the Wyoming Life and Resource Center would focus on intermediate care and the Wyoming Retirement Center would focus on long-term care.”

Option 1B ranked second in the order of preference by the task force, ranked third in estimated cost savings and estimated capital requirements were $113 million.

Option 2

Option 2 is the “status quo,” according to the report. The option would implement the upgrades and address the construction requirements.  According to the report, all facilities would stay in place, serve the same populations and deliver the same type of care to clients.

The task force noted in the report that “this option is inconsistent with the recommendations of the task force to prioritize the populations served in the state’s safety net.”

Option 2 was ranked third in the task force’s preference, ranked fourth in estimated cost savings and had an estimated capital requirement of $113 million.

Option 3

Option 3 is the “one facility” option. According to the task’s force report Option 3 would be “the most drastic.” All three facilities would close and a new facility would be constructed with a consolidated campus and multiple licensures.

The reported stated “Constructing a new facility to treat Wyoming’s core safety-net populations would better integrate care across the spectrum of needs (e.g. if a client in intermediate care has crisis, acute-care staff and facilities would be nearby) and would also be the most cost effective option.”

This option would require a new 170-bed facility with only 204,000 square feet. According to the report, all three facilities have a combined 1,045,772 square feet.

The new facility would also require about 60 percent of the staff.

It also stated in the report that “This option represents the biggest shock to the system and to the communities where current facilities are located.”

Option 3 ranked last in preference, but ranked first in estimated cost savings. The estimated capital requirements were listed as $90 million.

What’s next?

 The task force will meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Wyoming Retirement Center in Basin.

The task force will have until January to finalize its recommendations and options and will present those ideas to the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee.

State Rep. Elaine Harvey, who is a co-chair for the interim committee the task force reports to, says she will have to wait until the final report before she could favor any option.

“I would really have to wait until for the final report,” Harvey said. “They should be presenting those to the committee in January. Then the committee will choose which option we want to move forward with to the legislature.”

The committee will then vote and recommend options and ideas to the state legislature.  No major changes in current policy and legislation will occur until after the state legislature votes on the committee’s recommendation.