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Nevada mental health home providers put on notice after audit

Nevada health officials announced Monday that “several providers” have been put on corrective action plans a week after an audit revealed mentally ill people are living in taxpayer-funded homes filled with feces and filth.

“I am committed to correcting all deficiencies identified by the audit,” said Richard Whitley, director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

On Thursday, inspectors began investigating 142 homes for the mentally ill after a state audit revealed atrocious conditions, including human waste, rodents, dirty walls and mattresses, broken glass, expired medication and mildew. Whitley said no clients had to be removed because of “immediate jeopardy including health and safety risks.”

The investigation, led by the department’s Bureau of Healthcare Quality and Compliance, began a day after the state audit detailed deplorable conditions at 37 homes. Officials said state case managers were checking the homes every month, but did not note the squalid conditions.

Officials declined to reveal locations of the homes, but said they are across the state.

Mental health advocates on Monday met with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office to discuss the audit. Despite a new law that requires the state to certify the homes, auditors found at least seven homes operating without certification. Spokeswoman Chrystal Main said it was unknown whether those uncertified homes — which auditors said contained some of the worst conditions — were included in the inspections.

The state’s “community-based living arrangement” program gives home providers $1,450 per client, per month to house mentally ill clients. It was unclear Monday how many homes were put on 10- and 30-day corrective action plans following the inspections.

Robin Reedy, executive director of NAMI Nevada, said state inspectors should check the homes monthly — instead of relying on case workers.

“They get stuck,” said Reedy, who met with the Governor’s Office on Monday. “The case manager wants to get them out of the cold. So it’s tough for them to say, ‘Oh no, you can’t go there’ when it’s freezing outside. It’s hard to find good places that will treat the entire person, and not just warehouse them.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

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