Guam – The federal management team briefed the legislature today (Tues) on the status of mental health. While they are making progress Dr. James Kiffer reports that there have been some delays because of a lack of funding from GovGuam.
Dr. James Kiffer told lawmakers that one major current issue at mental health is their psychiatric coverage. “We are in a process of bringing people in and re-contracting or writing new contracts with the people that we do have we did get a note over the weekend that a Dr. Kumar that we contracted with to be a medical director his wife unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer and she is undergoing treatment for six months so his arrival will be delayed by six months,” said Dr. Kiffer.
The previous medical directors contract expired and the Dr. is now working elsewhere. Kiffer says they are in the process of getting a Dr. for the children’s unit by the end of July, several of their other psychiatrists have renewed their contracts or will be renewing their contracts but will work only on a part time basis. However, their major obstacle is complying with the district courts consent decree.
Senator Adolpho Palacios asked Dr. Kiffer if they were fullfilling the requirements of the district court. “We…i don’t know if there is a simple yes or no to that as you know there was a delay in the transferring of funds from the district court into the trustee to give the FMT access to begin hiring the personnel and establishing their programs,” replied Dr. Kiffer.
According to Kiffer the time lines had to be adjusted because they fell behind in the implementation of certain programs because of a lack of funding. “So we re-adjusted we adjusted all those time lines to reflect the current status of the funding and that was filed I think about mid-June so in a sense we fell out of what we had promised on a plan of action an original plan of action,” said Dr. Kiffer.
GovGuam has to pay $15.9 million dollars for the permenant injunction for mental health for this fiscal year. Dr. Kiffer says a motion was also filed this week to delay the payment of $3.5 million dollars.
As for what kind of progress they’ve made the federal management team reported that they are making a more concerted effort at involving as many of the stakeholders in the improvements they are making at mental health.