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What Is DCWatch?
|GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF
DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 10, 2003
|CONTACT: LINDA GRANT
COURT MONITOR ENDORSES DMH’S PROGRESS TOWARD BUILDING DC’S NEW
PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
(Washington, D.C.) In his year-end report to the U.S. District Court,
the Court Monitor for the Department of Mental Health wrote, "It is
the Court Monitor’s overall view that the DMH is very solidly on track
with the mandates of the Court-ordered Plan." The report,
"September 2003 Summary Report to the Court (Year One)," tracks
how the Department is implementing the Court-ordered Plan for the District’s
new public mental health system. In May 2002, U.S. District Court Judge
Norma Holloway Johnson terminated the receivership under which the D.C.
Department of Mental Health had operated since 1997.
Dennis Jones, the Court Monitor, identified these " . . . more
notable year one accomplishments:
- "The DMH has successfully implemented the MHRS system."
The Mental Health Rehabilitation Services system is the
fee-for-service model that allows the District to be reimbursed by
Medicaid for delivering services that are recovery-oriented,
community-based, and consumer-focused. The MHRS services are made
available through community mental health outpatient providers,
certified by DMH. Additionally, the MHRS model fosters increased
accountability of providers for the health status of their consumers.
MHRS provides consumers with access to a wider array of services and
programs than has been possible in the past to enable consumers to
take advantage of this broader access and assure them a choice of
- "The DMH has proactively embraced the ‘Systems of Care’
philosophy for children/youth and adults." The lack of
comprehensive, District-based mental health services for the city’s
young residents has existed for decades and is cited as a significant
reason why young people with mental health and substance abuse needs
are a disproportionate population in the juvenile justice system.
Since October 2002, the District was awarded an $8 million, six-year
federal grant to develop a mental health system of care for children,
youth and their families.
- "The DMH has developed a comprehensive and viable
Authority." Prior to 2001, the District had no identifiable
entity responsible for regulating the public mental health system. The
Department of Mental Health was established in April 2001 with three
separate and distinct entities: the Mental Health Authority, which
regulates the mental health system, certifies providers as qualified
to deliver Medicaid-reimbursable services and develops services as
needed to meet the needs of consumers; St. Elizabeths Hospital, which
provides in-patient psychiatric services; and the D.C. Community
Services Agency, which is the community-based provider.
- "The DMH has made considerable progress in defining and
improving its role as a provider." Mr. Jones wrote in his July
2003 Report to the Court, "Under the leadership of a strong CSA
Director, this entity has made significant progress in the past year
in many areas . . ." extending from service delivery to business
functions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined
that St. Elizabeths Hospital is in compliance with federal regulations
for the first time in many years.
Mr. Jones also wrote, "All in all, the results of the first year
of Court Monitoring are highly encouraging . . . the big picture view is
one of a system that has – in very short order – developed a solid
policy, governance and services capacity foundation.. . .DMH is solidly on
the right track and is committed to continued improvement. Therefore,
expectations must be kept in check and remain solidly grounded in the
difficult realities facing the system after years of neglect and sudden
Martha B. Knisley, Director of the Department of Mental Health since
April 2001, said "The Court Monitor’s report confirms that we are
going in the right direction to overcome decades of inaction to provide
the District’s neediest residents with the mental health services they
deserve. We are here to help children reach their full potential and to
help adults become productive, contributing citizens. While the
Court-ordered Plan acknowledges that full implementation will take three
to five years, I want to assure the public that we share their sense of
urgency to get the job done."
For more information about the Department of Mental Health, go to www.dmh.dc.gov.