Governor Blunt takes steps to implement some of the recommendations made by his Mental Health Task Force, but is vague on whether he will act on the other recommendations. Blunt has signed an executive order telling the Department of Mental Health to inform the State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement about any deaths or assaults occurring in a state facility or a private one with a state contract. Deaths must be reported to the coroner. The department must implement an information management system to track critical information on abuse and neglect. Families will be trained to report suspected cases of abuse Guidelines will be developed to prioritize cases of abuse and neglect. The governor has directed mental health officials to work with the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Social Services to better use the adult abuse hotline as well as the child abuse hotline to ensure all cases of neglect and abuse are reported. The Department of Mental Health will be required to submit an annual report beginning in June of next year that details progress toward ensuring the safety of mentally ill and developmentally disabled patients. The executive order follows-up Mental Health Task Force recommendations, but not all the recommendations.Blunt acknowledges there are a number of other recommendations contained in the Missouri Mental Health Task Force report. He says they remain under consideration. Several recommendations are incorporated in Blunt’s executive order. Blunt says the absence of other recommendations shouldn’t be seen as a rejection of those recommendations. Some would require legislative approval. A main recommendation made by the task force is that more money be devoted to the Department of Mental Health so that it can attract and retain better staff. Blunt says other task force recommendations might make it into the State of the State address. Blunt formed the task force after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a series of articles, detailing injuries and deaths at state mental health facilities as well as private facilities with state contracts.
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