Our Vision at the Arizona Department of Health Services is, ”Health and Wellness for all Arizonans.” Part of our mission includes helping individuals with substance abuse issues achieve and maintain self-reliance and independence. To get there, some individuals simply need occasional outpatient services. Some need wrap-around, community or home-based services. Others require more intensive treatment in a residential setting. Our goal is to provide the most effective kind of treatment to suit every individual’s unique needs. While no two paths to recovery will ever be identical, we do know this: young people recover better in settings as close to home as possible.
Over the past two years, we’ve taken that knowledge to heart – and our actions have paid dividends. We’re matching more people with effective wrap-around services like in-home counseling, high-needs case management, home-care training, peer support, respite, family support and skills training. In turn, we’ve reduced the need for care in licensed high-level Residential facilities by 75% in Maricopa County. However, outpatient treatment, home and community-based services can’t always provide the level of treatment people need. Some individuals require more intensive treatment that only a licensed and regulated residential facility can provide.
A series of reports in The Republic this week suggests that some juvenile residential treatment facilities in our state are substandard. While no facility is perfect, our inspectors are well-trained and highly-motivated to ensure each of our licensed residential treatment facilities meets State standards. Those that fail to meet these standards must implement an immediate corrective action plan.
We inspect residential treatment facilities at least once a year — more often when we receive complaints. When we inspect facilities, our teams make decisions based on evidence. We talk to the residents and the staff; we look at patient and personnel records (including video records); we observe facility practices and examine physical evidence. This helps us separate legitimate complaints and concerns from those that are baseless or intentionally fabricated. We receive dozens of incident reports every day, which we carefully and promptly evaluate. It’s unusual that a report poses a health or safety problem. But when a situation that does is brought to our attention, we immediately send staff to the facility.
Successful residential treatment facilities are pro-active, follow their policies and procedures without fail, are meticulous in reporting and documentation and seek ongoing education. They’re not afraid to admit a mistake. Our job is to ensure that facilities comply with our standards and maximize their effectiveness. That’s why our licensing teams also focus on ways to improve our licensed facilities and our Behavioral Health team focuses on the evidence-based treatment that’s best for the patient. Additionally, we’ve been overhauling many regulations to ensure our standards focus on the most important components of care.
Our actions as an agency must be based in fact and rooted in the evidence demonstrated by a comprehensive review of the facility in question. You can view factual information about the more than 7,400 facilities we license by visiting www.azcarecheck.com.