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Health officials end Shadow Mountain contract with SoonerCare after years of concerns

by: Ashli Lincoln Updated:

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TULSA, Okla. - Quick facts:

  • Health officials terminated a contract between Tulsa's Shadow Mountain and SoonerCare.
  • The move comes after years of talks between OHCA and Shadow Mountain concerning staffing issues and other allegations.
  • Shadow Mountain officials say they believe the move is unwarranted.

 

Tulsa’s Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health System is under fire after health officials ended their contract with SoonerCare, a government funded program that helps people pay medical bills.

It all started on March 25th, 2015, when the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority (OHCA) sent Shadow Mountain a letter concerning their intentions to terminate SoonerCare provider contracts.

The letter cited multiple reasons for contract termination based on a site review on Feb 12th, 2015:

  • Units were allegedly left unsupervised due to inadequate staffing
  • 42 of 56 staff members interviewed identified a lack of tech coverage as an issue, while 38 of 56 reported a lack of nursing coverage
  • Patients reportedly received medication late as a result from low staffing
  • Riots allegedly occurred, and staff members were reportedly threatened if they referred to incidents as riots
  • Sexual conduct reportedly took place between staff members and patients and was not properly reported to OHCA
     

Shadow Mountain had been on a Corrective Action Plan for two years when the OHCA letter was written.

The plan gives providers the opportunity to address deficiencies, and OHCA says Shadow Mountain failed to abide by their contract, so they threatened to terminate it in March 2015.

Shadow Mountain sent response letter on April 5, 2015 saying that the contract should not be terminated. They said they will ensure adequate staffing by providing a registered nurse around the clock and hiring additional staff.

After a riot incident happened on February 2, 2015, officials with Shadow Mountain said all incidents were reported and reviewed by Risk Management.

They said all allegations of sexual contact are reported to Oklahoma Counseling Association and investigated.


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On April 13, 2015, Shadow Mountain allegedly retrained nurses on medication administration policy.

After reading the response from Shadow Mountain, OHCA decided not to terminate their contract, and Shadow Mountain was again placed on a corrective action plan.

The plan was affective August 19th, 2015. It was set to stay in place for one year.

OHCA sent Shadow Mountain another intent to terminate letter on December 30th, 2015 citing similar reasons to the first letter, including sow staffing and a lack of registered nurse coverage.

Again, Shadow Mountains sent OHCA a list of corrective measures, saying they renovated their nursing station, implemented new procedures, placed continuous advertisements for mental health technicians, conducted new staff orientations weekly, spent approximately $250,000 in making renovation and staffing changes in 2015 and were recognized by the joint commission as TOP Performer.

On March 11th, 2016 OHCA decided to place Shadow Mountain back on the corrective action plan and not terminate the contract.

In November, however, OHCA officially terminated all SoonerCare contracts for failure to comply with their plan, though they were later reinstated, and on June 1, 2017, OHCA terminated all SoonerCare contracts with Shadow Mountain.

According to the law, either party can terminate their contract without cause.    

Shadow Mountain released a statement concerning the move:

“We were extremely disappointed to receive the notice from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and believe the action is unwarranted.  We are hopeful that we will be provided the opportunity to open a dialogue with OHCA which will allow us to demonstrate the quality of the care and treatment provided to our patients as well as the vital role we play caring for the residents of Oklahoma with significant mental health issues.”


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