Milwaukee’s Mental Health Hospital Privatization Still Underway

Source: Lisa Kaiser, Shepherd Express, July 12, 2016

The Milwaukee County Mental Health Board had intended to decide this summer on outsourcing the operations of the county’s psychiatric hospital. But that decision’s been delayed—and that’s a good thing, according to the board’s chair, Duncan Shrout. … The Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, an all-appointed board of behavioral health experts who took over the county supervisors’ authority over the county’s mental health and substance abuse programs in 2014, voted last year to privatize the hospital, which serves children, teens and adults and includes the county’s only psychiatric emergency room. The hospital privatization plan is part of the county’s efforts to downsize its in-patient services and provide more services within the community. It closed down its remaining long-term care units in the hospital at the end of 2015, and has a capacity to care for up to 60 adult patients in the hospital, although staff shortages often lower capacity to around 50. Many of the patients have legal issues and very serious mental illnesses and require highly skilled, specialized care. … Just two bidders responded to the county’s RFP last summer and BHD administrators suspended the process in October. Days later, Health and Human Services Director Héctor Colón announced he’d seek a single-source contract with a vendor and make the transition in 2018 instead of rethinking the county’s privatization plans and revising the RFP. …


Holloway proposes mental health redesign / Private vendors would jointly operate small-scale facilities
Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, January 12, 2011

Milwaukee County would create a series of small-scale mental health facilities jointly operated with private vendors under a reform plan Acting County Executive Lee Holloway outlined Wednesday. …. The community mental health units would be staffed and overseen by county employees but managed and owned by private mental health agencies, according to Holloway’s plan. Retaining county workers was a key provision, aimed at getting union buy-in, he said. The private firms selected by the county would get a negotiated rate for caring for patients, an approach Holloway said was borrowed from HMOs and could help control costs. He also envisions a two-tier pay structure in which new employees would earn less than those now employed by the county at the Mental Health Complex – something he said could dramatically lower costs over time.