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Valley Mental Health

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I am worried that recent media coverage of Valley Mental Health has focused almost entirely on management and cost issues. However, as somebody who has been a caregiver for over 40 years for my wife, a person with mental-health problems, my concern is simply this: Is VMH’s treatment effective? Since we moved to Salt Lake City seven years ago, I have been very satisfied with VMH’s performance, from helpful group- and individual-therapy sessions to after-hours telephone consultations on medication management and future strategy (VMH also seems to be able to control costs: Our charges are fully covered by Medicare and Medigap).

In our case, there are few positive measures of “success”; it is more a question of slowing inevitable decline and avoiding disaster. My wife has retained some independence, has not had to be medicated excessively and has not had to be hospitalized again. That is wonderful. But I am worried that these negative achievements may not be acceptable criteria for managed care in a “for-profit” business model, when another (expensive) level of management has been brought in to ensure “efficiency.”

Perhaps these are peripheral issues for the majority of City Weekly readers. But, for the less fortunate, services such as VMH’s may make the difference between a more-or-less normal life and being on the street. I hope that the radical changes now being made will be very carefully evaluated to ensure that vulnerable patients do not suffer.

Richard Middleton
Salt Lake City