Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services sent an action plan to the governor on Monday after a legislative audit last week revealed filthy and unsafe conditions at community homes for the mentally ill almost two years after department officials had purportedly taken steps to address them.
Since Thursday morning, the department has inspected 142 so-called community-based living arrangement homes and confirmed the welfare and safety of every client, HHS Director Richard Whitley said in a Monday statement. However, several providers were placed on 10- and 30-day corrective action plans by inspectors with the Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance who accompanied the regular case workers on the site visits.
Whitley, in a statement, reiterated his commitment to “correcting all deficiencies identified by the audit.” He launched an internal investigation into how squalid conditions persisted at the homes when he thought staff with the Division of Public and Behavioral Health had implemented steps to address them in March 2016 in the wake of a Reno Gazette-Journal story.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who visited one of the homes in Sparks with inspectors Monday morning, said that he was “impressed” by the Health Care Quality and Compliance inspectors’ attention to detail. Under existing department policy, case workers are responsible for conducting monthly environmental reviews of the home.
“I think it highlighted the fact that we have a structural program in terms of who is performing these inspections and what sort of chain of command there is and who answers to who,” Kieckhefer said.
The Republican senator, who sits on the legislative committee that heard the audit last week and called the state of the homes a “failure,” said he asked the department if he could come visit during one of the inspections to get a better sense of what was happening on the ground. He said the home wasn’t “one of the worst by any stretch of the imagination” though and had gone through several inspections already.
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