PUEBLO — The Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo (CMHHIP) is facing staffing issues. Among its challenges, News5Investigates discovered the hospital is operating with less than half of its allotted psychologist positions.
When News5 spoke with CMHHIP hospital CEO Jill Marshall in October, Marshall said there were "around 15" psychologist openings at the hospital, including three psychology candidates. Candidates are working to become licensed but have completed their education and work in the psychology department. As of Thursday, the hospital had not filled any of those positions.
Ten psychologists and one candidate are currently employed by the hospital. At least one psychologist has been on paid administrative leave for nearly nine months, still getting paid but not working at the hospital.
"It is concerning that we would have psychologists vacancies," Marshall said, "but we're also at a really exciting place with our psychology department. Our chief clinical officer has been working with the psychologists that we do have, and looking at exactly what the model should be for psychology. And a lot of those vacancies are because those positions are being relaxed and reworked to better meet the needs of our patients."
While Marshall said positions are being reworked, she said the hospital hadn't eliminated any psychologist positions.
Staffing issues have spread throughout departments in the hospital. In the most recent fiscal year, the state Department of Human Services (DHS), which is the department the hospital is under went $13 million over budget staffing the hospital with contract employees.
As of this month, DHS said the hospital is operating with 34 percent of contract staff.
When it comes to the impact of so few psychologists at the hospital, Marshall said not every patient requires one in treatment plans, "we're actually working to work in combination to provide more psychotherapy with social work, with psychology, with the licensed professional counselors, and really to increase the number of psychology staff," Marshall said.
With the psychology department currently operating with nine psychologists, News5 is working to learn the number of employees that have been placed on administrative leave. In some cases, employees are out for months at a time.
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