Pinecrest staffers face almost daily patient assaults in wake of cutbacks, officials say

Source: Mark Ballard, The Advocate, March 25, 2017
The state’s efforts to privatize and economize health care at the state’s remaining facility for the intellectually impaired have resulted in regular assaults on staff by patients, state officials have discovered.  Almost every day, sometimes several times a day, a mentally impaired resident at Pinecrest punches, bites or otherwise violently lashes out at the mostly middle-aged women who help the individuals dress, eat and function in the world. The sudden and dramatic increase in violent attacks is an unintended consequence of “real quick privatization,” says Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto, whose responsibilities include the 95-year-old facility near Pineville. Looking to save money, the state slashed budgets, laid off personnel and in 2013 closed other public facilities, intending to send the bulk of the patients to small, privately-owned group homes in communities around the state where their needs could be addressed on a more individualized basis. Pinecrest Supports and Services Center got the rest. … Budget cuts in other state agencies limited programs that treated these individuals in the past.

… For the 12 months prior to Feb. 28, the staff filed 524 reports, required by workers compensation regulations, for incidents at the facility where three years ago virtually no violence took place. … Perry, an officer in the employees union, says worker’s comp forms are only the tip of the violence iceberg because no publicly available forms are filled out unless the “slap leaves a mark.”  Local 712 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees began collecting statements from its members that provide a little more detail. … Many of the statements collected by the union complained about how they are unprotected by police and, often, are removed from direct patient care. … But the staff has lost its patience, says James Ray, AFSCME field representative and a Methodist minister. “They always say be patient, it’s going to get better. But the state, as an employer, has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace, which they are not doing,” he said.


Health firms make privatization pitches
Source: Michelle Millhollon, Advocate, February 14, 2014

In an overheated Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday morning, business leaders made pitches for privatizing a $2 billion slice of the state’s health care business. United Healthcare, Amerigroup Louisiana, Louisiana Healthcare Connections and LifeShare Management Group are interested in managing the long-term care needs of 73,000 Medicaid-eligible people. The companies want to oversee the personal care, doctor’s visits, transportation, hospitalizations and other daily needs of people with disabilities, as well as those with age-related or adult-onset challenges.

DHH Wants More Medicaid Privatization, Stakeholders Hesitant
Source: Ashley Westerman, WRKF, November 5, 2013

The state Department of Health and Hospitals is taking preliminary steps to further privatize Medicaid in Louisiana. In August, DHH released a concept paper about reforms to long-term care for the developmentally disabled and low-income elderly.

In a nutshell, the department wants to bring in a private managed care organization – or MCO – to create a network of healthcare providers to serve those populations. Proponents of private MCOs claim they save money, cut down on fraud and improve the quality of care. The state Dept. of Health and Hospitals is looking to privatize the managed care for Medicaid patients with developmental disabilities and low-income elderly. Other stakeholders and advocates for the disabled and elderly throughout the state, for the most part, welcome reform but skepticism remains….

Transforming Louisiana’s Long Term Care Supports and Services System, Initial Program Concept
Source:Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, August 30, 2013

State working on privatization for long-term care
Source: Associated Press, October 8, 2013

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is planning to privatize the state’s long-term care programs for the elderly and developmentally disabled.The Advocate reports ( that efforts are getting underway to change the way those Medicaid programs are handled. Companies interested in the work already are trying to line up providers to be part of their care networks. … The Jindal administration has moved two-thirds of Medicaid program recipients into private insurance entities, as well as its behavioral health services. Services for the elderly and disabled are the final large piece of Louisiana’s $7 billion Medicaid program to be privatized. …

Jindal looks to privatize health care programs
Source: Marsha Shuler, Advocate, September 16, 2013

Gov. Bobby Jindal has begun work on privatizing the last big chunk of health-care programs still being run by state government. His aides are setting up the process of hiring private concerns to manage programs that care for the elderly and developmentally disabled. It’s the last major group of programs still directly under the $7 billion-plus state Medicaid program, which provides health insurance for roughly a quarter of Louisiana’s population…. And now the Jindal administration is looking at the elderly and developmentally disabled. The state health agency recently outlined its plans in a “concept paper” that discussed the benefits that care coordination by private managers can give people needing “long term support and services,” a category of patients more commonly referred to as the elderly and disabled….