Suicide at State Hospital Results from Lack of Staff, Funding

Speaking of the danger of trying to do health care on the cheap, South Dakota’s stinginess led to a dead teenager that the Human Services Center in Yankton in 2014. So conclude federal inspectors:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that Human Services Center staff did not follow instructions to check on the boy every 15 minutes, that his room was not appropriate given his doctor’s orders, and that potentially lifesaving techniques were not properly used [Mark Walker, “Feds Find Fault for Boy’s Death at State Hospital,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.06.18].

If I were Mike Rounds, I’d try to say the problem is anything other than funding. CMS cites safety hazards and improper medical procedure, but CMS also cites lack of staff as a key factor in the boy’s suicide:

The report sheds light on the pressures felt by employees due to chronic understaffing at the state’s psychiatric hospital. A youth counselor told inspectors that it was difficult to maintain the check schedule due to the volume of the patients.

“Every 15 minute checks were ‘Hard to meet if you have 5 patients,’” the report said, quoting the counselor.

…State officials responsible for managing the HSC have said these and other issues have been addressed. But finding and paying qualified workers continues to be a problem, both because of the job market in Yankton and the difficulty of the work [Walker, 2016.06.18].

Funny that it takes a crisis or death to get South Dakota government to pay attention to basic labor market realities: when you trying to hire professionals for hard work in a tight labor market, you have to pay a competitive wage.

8 Responses to Suicide at State Hospital Results from Lack of Staff, Funding

  1. What do you value? If you value people or quality you will pay market wages or above to attract the best talent. Its just that simple.

  2. Cory, you note that it takes a death or crisis for the regime in Pierre to pay attention to basic labor market realities, I would argue that. It takes a lawsuit for them to pull their collective heads out of their arse. Medicaid Expansion is death and is a crisis to the basic labor market and yet, we have bozo heads like the three amigos you wrote about in another section who ignore the situation, right along with their governor.

  3. mike from iowa

    Why 15 minutes. If one staff has five patients each one has nearly an hour between checks to hurt themselves. What am I missing. Sounds like you need one to one staffing.

  4. I am continually astounded at the lack of empathy from a former Executive Director of the Children’s Home. Apparently these kids were merely stepping stones.

  5. Good Sense

    Hey mikey,

    I am sure the hospital would appreciate your generous donation, since you are so concerned.

  6. Non sequitur, GS—we don’t run our public institutions on unpredictable donations from Iowans. We run our public institutions on responsible, sufficient funding from South Dakota taxpayers.

  7. Good Sense


    I am pretty sure all the hospitals in SD, IA or wherever will be glad to take any contribution from anyone who is concerned about the health care of patients.

    With this example and the VA health care system in shambles, you are seeing a portend of the great and glorious program called OBAMACARE.

  8. VA care in shambles? Then why do veterans groups oppose privatization and prefer expanding and improving VA care as a government program?