The Guam Daily Post

12 23Tue12012015


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Back Local News GBHWC now getting closer to certification

GBHWC now getting closer to certification

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THE Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, formerly the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, has shown significant improvements in the areas of services and operations in the past several months since regaining control of the agency from the federal management team, according to a technical consultant report.

“GBHWC continues its journey out of court oversight. For a number of years, exiting court oversight has been seen as an end point rather than a starting point,” states a report written by the center’s technical consultants, Debra Kupfer and Dave Wanser.

“While leadership maintains its compliance, focus is also creating action on a plan for more community-based and recovery focus services that the people of Guam need and deserve from their behavioral health system,” according to the report which the center submitted to the federal court as part of its mandated status updates.

The local government regained control of the behavioral health department in February last year after District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall lifted the federal receivership and relieved Dr. James Kiefer of his responsibilities.

The agency was placed under federal receivership in 2010 due to lack of compliance with the stipulations of a permanent injunction that resulted from a lawsuit questioning the agency’s inadequate services for individuals with special needs.

The progress demonstrated by the agency has brought it closer to obtaining a certification from the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Service.

“There continues to be incremental progress made in many areas,” the report stated.


The report was based on the technical consultants’ third on-site visit in November last year as part of the center’s preparatory efforts to meet CMS certification standards.

Kupfer and Wanser noted the agency’s beefed up efforts toward increasing the focus on community-based and consumer-oriented treatments that produce better outcomes and improved access for clients.

The report noted the agency has managed to overcome bureaucratic obstacles “that not only impair the agency’s ability to be responsive but also add unnecessarily to the financial burden for taxpayers.”

While there is much left to do, the consultant is confident the center’s current staff has the capability to further improve the organization, according to the report.

“With this in mind, GBH should endeavor to develop a strategic plan early in 2014 so that there is an organized process to define future goals and needs,” Kupfer and Wanser wrote.

“The plan provides a statement of intent for the aspiration of the agency to indeed provide a community-inclusive, recovery-focused system of care through a defined set of services to individuals based on their level of need.”

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