Commonwealth Journal

News Live

December 20, 2012

Bluegrass Mental Health under scrutiny by auditor

Lexington company operates Oakwood locally

Lexington, Ky. —  

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A state audit has found spending and management problems at a Lexington nonprofit agency that provides mental health care, including the management of two state-owned facilities.
Auditor Adam Edelen said in the report on Thursday that executives at Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board awarded themselves benefits worth millions of dollars without scrutiny from the agency's board of directors.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the audit found the agency has paid nearly $3 million in benefit contributions since 1997 to top executives at the CEO's discretion while most employees received little or nothing.
The agency, among other things, manages Eastern State Hospital in Lexington and Bluegrass Oakwood in Somerset, both of which are owned by the state.
"Dedicated profess-ionals, many of whom face great challenges on a daily basis in our commonwealth's mental health facilities, had not received raises since at least 2009," Edelen said in his report. "As we've recently been reminded, untreated mental illness can have tragic consequences. To provide that care and protect the public, we must provide those on the front lines with respect and fair pay."
In response to the findings, Bluegrass board chairman Scott Gould said the board would review the report and its recommendations "and take action to preserve the integrity of our policies and procedures at Blue-grass."
He also said the board would discuss the possibility of an internal auditor who would report to the board.
"We have always had tremendous respect for the ethical behavior of each member of our executive team, and we believe the internal auditor could complement our existing staff and will help insure transparency and confidence in Bluegrass' corporate structure," Gould wrote.
Bluegrass CEO Shannon Ware said last week that she plans to retire after four years of leading the agency. 

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