Vital Signs newsletter: Watchdog finds Maine VA mishandled mental health care

Almost exactly a year has passed since scandal first rocked the nation’s VA health system. Sparked by reports that multiple patients in Phoenix died after long waits for care, the government initiated sweeping investigations that cast a skeptical eye on VA facilities across the country.

Now, a government watchdog has tied some of the VA’s “systemic problems” to Maine, issuing a report Wednesday that finds Togus medical center mishandled referrals and appointment scheduling for mental health treatment. While the VA’s Office of Inspector General found no evidence of serious patient harm, investigators raised concerns about scheduling, the availability of mental health appointments, staff turnover and vacancies, and low morale.

Interviewees acknowledged the referral problems may leave some patients “slipping through the cracks.”

Watchdog finds Maine VA mishandled mental health care

Other top health stories:

Mid Coast Hospital to buy bankrupt Parkview medical center

The proposed deal between the two longtime competitors highlights the challenges smaller hospitals face in Maine and throughout the country.

Lack of services for adult son with autism prompts Carmel family’s move out of Maine

Under Maine’s assistance programs, Michael Levasseur can’t access the services he needs, such as a job coach, so his family packed up and moved to Virginia, where they can find such help.

From our bloggers

Diane Atwood, Catching Health

Some difficult but important advice about planning ahead — now

If you could no longer speak for yourself, would the people who love you know your final wishes? If they did, could you count on them to carry them out?

Jim LaPierre, Recovery Rocks

The Quickest Way to Improve Your Mental Health

Living with the belief that we are not “good enough” the single greatest deterrent to good mental health.

From the source

We often hear about the bull’s eye rash that’s characteristic of Lyme disease. But only 56 percent of the 1,381 patients diagnosed with Lyme in Maine last year reported seeing it, according to a state report.

Public health experts suspect the rash is overlooked when it breaks out under the hair or on the back, where patients can’t spot it. But some Lyme sufferers question whether the rash appears at all in many cases.

Compiled by BDN Health Editor Jackie Farwell

Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.