05 August 2009

W.Va. DHHR Falling Under Judicial Scrutiny

The state Department of Health and Human Resources, and the programs it operates, are ending up in West Virginia courts.

The Associated Press' Tom Breen reports on observations from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin that DHHR "is suffering from a 'systemic' lack of resources that regularly results in a failure to meet its legal obligations."

Benjamin addressed the topic in a concurring opinion in "a case in which the DHHR successfully sought a Supreme Court ruling that blocked a lower court from dismissing the agency's move to terminate a woman's parental rights."

"I am deeply troubled and concerned about this continuing resource problem," Benjamin wrote, "a problem which I sense may be worsening and may be becoming systemic. This underlying resource problem perhaps deserves the court's fuller attention."

The AP article also cites last month's move by Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom to revive "an independent court monitor position to track how the state provides care at (Mildred Mitchell-) Bateman and West Virginia's other public psychiatric hospital, William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston."

The Charleston Gazette updates that situation, reporting that Bloom has appointed Ombudsman for Behavioral Health David Sudbeck as monitor.

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