Large state-run psychiatric hospital risks losing federal funds

Minnesota's second-largest state-run psychiatric hospital is at risk of losing federal funding over patient care and staff safety.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center could lose $3.5 million annually from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which gave the state a March deadline to come up with solutions.

Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper, who oversees the Anoka-Metro facility, said she recognizes the problems and is working on solutions, beginning with the personnel.

"We have a staffing shortage at Anoka that's causing not only concerns around patient care but also mandatory forced overtime for our staff and staff are very concerned and they're tired," she said.

Piper, who took over as commissioner in December, said her first priority is to hire additional staff and offer competitive compensation packages.

The hospital is currently treating 103 patients. Staff have said a 2013 law requiring mentally ill jail inmates to be transferred there two days after they're booked has created difficult working conditions. Piper said that's what she sees as well.

"Much more of our population is coming directly from jail and the acuity is different in these patients," Piper said.

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