To The Daily Sun,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Genesis Behavioral Health, I wish to address state Rep. Raymond Howard's concerns regarding our organization in his letter to the editor of Feb. 9. We are always open to questions and comments about our organization and its finances, and appreciate the opportunity to address them.
The "six top staffers" referred to by Rep. Howard are the majority of our medical staff. A community mental health center cannot operate without physicians and/or nurse practitioners. As a health care organization, all of our services are prescribed by a medical provider as required by law. The Lakes Region is considered a health professional shortage area, and recruitment and retention of medical staff is a constant challenge. This is particularly true for psychiatry, as we are competing with urban areas such as Boston.
Genesis Behavioral Health is fortunate to have a full complement of providers to serve our 3,800-plus patients at the present time, and we need to ensure we retain them. Market adjustments are sometimes necessary, as they are in any other business, to maintain the workforce required to provide the best outcomes for patients and the community.
Administrative costs in Fiscal Year 2015 were 9 percent of the total budget for Genesis Behavioral Health. The organization runs a lean operation. Our staff have not had annual adjustments in several years, and we have eliminated positions, including an assistant executive director position, in an effort to reduce costs. The turnover rate at Genesis Behavioral Health is 20 percent.
We are competing with nine other community mental health centers for a professional workforce and must strive to maintain it in order to ensure the seamless provision of services to our patients and the community.
Rep. Howard raised the issue of GBH's investments and budget. GBH serves 24 towns in Belknap and southern Grafton Counties, and the numbers referred to by Rep. Howard include the entire catchment area.
Since 2004, Genesis has saved financial reserves originating from an agreement with the state. These funds have supported the organization's operations when needed over the years, recognizing that community mental health centers are subject to a number of external financial forces, such as Medicaid reimbursement rates and other administrative rules. Medicaid reimbursement rates have not been increased in 10 years, and, in fact, have been decreased over time. Medicaid reimbursement is approximately 70 percent of Genesis' budget and is our largest revenue source.
Investments and reserve funds have allowed Genesis to maintain operations and continue to serve the community, while remaining in compliance with the state's required fiscal indicators. They have been used to invest in capital items necessary to do business as a health care provider, including an electronic medical records system required by the federal government. Community mental health centers, unlike hospitals, did not receive any financial investment or support at the federal level, but are still subject to the requirement.
The recent growth in clinical services is significant, and indicative of the tremendous need for mental health providers and services in our region. GBH must seek a new facility that meets the needs of its patients and the community. Currently, our organization is in five different locations in Laconia — a configuration that is neither efficient nor cost-effective.
The agency's long-term goal is to consolidate clinical and administrative services in one building to allow for better patient care and expansion of programs that improve outcomes and increase revenue for improved sustainability. We intend to finance a facility through a combination of bonds, grants, donations and reserves.
We appreciate the difficult task and tremendous responsibility our elected officials have in vetting the many worthy organizations requesting funds, and we are grateful for the support we have received over the years. Mental health is consistently identified as one of the top community needs and concerns for our region, and the provision of these services is critical to the health and vitality of our community.
One in four adults and one in five children will experience a mental health disorder each year. It could be your child. It could be your partner. It could be your mother or your brother. It could be your neighbor or your co-worker. It could be you. And if it is, Genesis Behavioral Health is here to help.
Dr. Jim Hundrieser, New Hampton
President, Genesis Behavioral Health Board of Directors
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