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May 07, 2021  

Dan McKee has asked state Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones to take charge on an interim basis of the embattled agency that runs the state hospital. On Kathryn Power's last day as director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, McKee announced his decision to send Jones to right the proverbial ship and help assess what needs to come next. A statement issued by McKee spokesman Matt Sheaff said: "The governor has charged Secretary Jones with conducting a thorough review of the department and to make recommendations to him on issues including, but not limited to, departmental policy, operations, staffing and quality standards for patient care.  "Rhode Islanders who rely on services from BHDDH deserve high quality care. Given her 30 years of experience in human services, Secretary Jones will work to bring stability to the department.  "Secretary Jones will work with staff and other stakeholders to rebuild the lines of communication and trust necessary to improve patient outcomes. Secretary Jones will continue to maintain her duties as EOHHS secretary and we thank her for taking on these additional responsibilities."                                                      The agency is reeling from the fallout of a much-criticized hospital downsizing plan that McKee inherited from his predecessor, Gina Raimondo, when she quit March 2 to become the Biden administration's commerce secretary. An aggressive patient discharge campaign by the administrators of the Eleanor Slater Hospital, which has campuses in Cranston and Burrillville, prompted physician resignations and votes of no confidence in the hospital management. In a related development, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services said it did not order the Raimondo administration to suspend billing for the last year and a half on upwards of $60 million in federal Medicaid funding. Responding to a Journal inquiry, a CMS spokesman said, "CMS has not conducted an audit related to fraudulent Medicaid payments for state hospitals in Rhode Island.  "While CMS has not conducted an audit, the 2019 single state audit (performed by the state’s auditors) identified a finding related to Medicaid payments for state hospitals that required the state to update language in its Medicaid State Plan regarding how the state pays for Medicaid services." That proposed amendment was approved late last month, but at last report the state had not yet resumed billing for patients at the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital. SEIU Local 580, the union represents clinical social workers and psychologists at Eleanor Slater Hospital, called on Jones to move away from the  current "top-heavy BHDDH bureaucracy by sufficiently staffing the hospital with frontline workers that provide direct-care.  The union noted: "BHDDH has 65 employees with “Administrator” and 14 employees with “Director” in their position title,". Other recommendations: Replace the current top-tier of administrators and "appoint respected, independent public health and mental health experts to lead a committee that will ensure patient-centered reforms to rebuild trust that will send a message that the needs of the most vulnerable, not finances, are driving hospital decisions." A native of Chicago, Jones began her career in 1991 as a social worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She worked her way up through leadership ranks in Illinois, and then Minnesota, with a stop along the find way at the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she had a role in the investigation of clergy sex-abuse cases. “It would be a blessing to me to be given the opportunity to help shape Rhode Island’s health and human services system, protecting and supporting lives across the lifespan — from newborns to elders,’’ Jones told Rhode Island senators at her May 2019 confirmation hearing. She was director of social services in Ramsey County, Minnesota, when Raimondo hired her to head the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.  That office administers Rhode Island’s Medicaid program and manages four departments employing more than 3,600 people: Health; Children, Youth and Families; Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals; and Human Services. The EOHHS and the agencies under its umbrella provide direct services to more than 300,000 Rhode Islanders. When Jones arrived in Rhode Island, the state was facing the continued fallout from the UHIP computer system debacle and troubles at DCYF. She left behind a different kind of controversy. An arm of the the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed suit in April 2017 against Ramsey County, accusing Jones and others in management of discouraging employees from airing their concerns. (The suit was settled months later.) While Jones was not asked about that lawsuit at her confirmation hearing, Sen. Gayle Goldin, D-Providence, questioned her about the two years she worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago as director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth. Jones said the job evolved out of the meetings she had weekly with  then-Archbishop Francis Cardinal George in her role as the statewide child protection manager for the Illinois Department of Children & and Family Services.


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I have read and understood your Privacy Policy* I have read and understood your Privacy Policy National Eye Health Week: Increased risk of falls and health issues due to missed eye tests, warns charity Eye Health UK has warned that missed sight tests and low public awareness of the symptoms of eye disease, risks leading to a surge in avoidable sight loss as well as increases in mental health issues and falls. To mark National Eye Health Week, which this year runs from 21-27 September, figures from private eye examination data and GOS statistics have revealed that five million routine eye tests were missed during lockdown. To compound the issue, opticians are still operating a reduced capacity of sight tests, due to coronavirus social distancing measures , leading to further delays in diagnosing and treating sight-threatening eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Royal National Institute of Blind People suggests that speedy diagnosis and treatment is the best defence in controlling eye disease and preventing avoidable sight loss. Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Jo Churchill said: “Protecting the health of our eyes is incredibly important – but it’s something that too often gets overlooked. That’s why I’m delighted that Eye Health UK has dedicated a week to raising awareness of the issues around eye health and how people can look after their vision. “Eye care services are open and practising safely across the country to provide advice and support in COVID-secure environments. I would urge everyone to take care of their sight and have it tested regularly.” Poor eye health can have a significant effect on quality of life. David Cartwright, Chairman of the charity Eye Health UK said: “Even slightly reduced vision have a peek here can have an impact on your mental health – increasing the risk of depression three-fold. It can also affect your physical well-being – more than doubling the risk of falls, for example, as well as taking a toll on educational performance and social activities .” Worryingly, research shows that many of us are unaware of the symptoms of sight-threatening conditions. A recent University of London study into age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss – found the most common patient-related factor for delays in treating the condition was people not attributing their symptoms to the condition – as they either lacked knowledge about AMD symptoms or attributed their symptoms to another eye problem e.g.: needing stronger spectacles . Study participants also didn’t perceive their symptoms as urgent or important and so delayed contacting their optician. Yet, half of all sight loss is avoidable. In order to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment people are advised to contact their optician immediately if: Your vision has suddenly changed or become blurry; You have been referred by NHS 111, your GP practice or other healthcare professional; You have broken or lost your glasses and can’t function properly without them; You have a problem with your contact lenses; You are worried about your vision or eye health. If you are not registered with an optical practice, you can find details of local opticians on the NHS website . It’s recommended everyone has an eye test every two years unless advised otherwise by their optometrist. Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.