It seems like a case of too little too late. Minnesota Security Hospital. which nearly lost its license after one patient assaulted and killed another patient in January, has now created a policy to include input from families in the hospital’s strategic decisions. Yes, involving families is a great idea when it comes to behavioral health treatment and recovery, but it’s heart wrenching to think that a tragedy is what created the impetus for the new advisory board. According to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the hospital has hired new staff and created an avenue for former patients and families to participate in their training.
Previously, the hospital staff was reportedly unsure of how to handle certain situations, such as violent behavior, and was generally disengaged with the patients. Too many people apparently acted--or failed to act--out of fear and ignorance.
Patient-centered care is a trend that’s been picking up speed in the past few years, and behavioral health facilities can’t lull themselves into thinking the trend doesn't apply to them. Some might be tempted to believe they’re the exception because behavioral health is a unique discipline, or worse, that they’re already patient-centered and don't have to worry about it. Patient-centeredness in practice is more than just compiling those pesky satisfaction surveys.
In true patient-centered care, the person’s individual experiences are what make the difference. Rather than delivering care that makes sense on paper, we as an industry have to start thinking of ways to proactively deliver care that engages patients and makes sense in their hearts and minds throughout every step of treatment.
For example, how can you improve the intake process so it’s less scary for patients? Do you have a simple way to specify preferred pronouns, as in “him” versus “her,” for your LGBT patients? How would you approach the nutritional needs for a patient with Asperger’s syndrome who will only eat pizza and grape jelly? A patient-satisfaction survey will not give you these answers.
But a patient’s family certainly will.
Minnesota Security Hospital got the idea for its new family advisory board from nearby Regions Hospital, which has a 26-member consumer committee that meets monthly. The state hospital’s board will begin meeting in November. While poor management at the facility was a horrific tragedy, so is closing a much-needed treatment center. Minnesota Security Hospital will be on probation for two years, but I’m looking forward to following its progress.