SHREVEPORT, La. -- A few weeks ago, KTBS spotlighted legislation dealing with Medicaid fraud in behavior healthcare -- especially for kids and the hundreds of millions being scammed from the system in our state -- that was signed into law.
A local mental healthcare provider in Shreveport saw the story about widespread fraud and ongoing investigations and took mild exception. He wants everybody to know there are legitimate providers in mental healthcare.
“There were some things I didn’t agree with," said Ryan Williams, he said of the story, not the legislation, House Bill 211.
“I don’t disagree with the House bill,” Williams said. “I think it is something that is needed.”
But he wanted those in need to know there are legitimate providers. State Rep. Dodie Horton checked out Williams’ company with the attorney general’s office and says Seedlinks is on the level.
“At Seedlinks, our goal is to plant great information and great services into our people and to the community,” Williams said.
Plant is an operative word. That’s why you’ll see some form of tree in every employee’s office — emblematic of growth not only for patients, but for public perception.
“There’s already aspersions cast on mental health,” said Williams. “There’s always someone talking about the shamefulness of it. And some people may feel shameful of it. And what we wanted to do was clear the air on that and let them know there are god providers out there.”
Credentialing plays a big role in the legitimacy of behavioral healthcare.
“We do have to be credentialed with the insurance companies,” said Seedlinks HR Director Zondra Spikes. "Our MCO’s, we also have to be CARF accredited. We have a three-year accreditation with CARF.”
CARF stands for Commission Accredited Rehabilitation facility. Seedlinks is also credentialed by the state of Louisiana.
“They come out to view our facilities. They view all the processes with the MCO’s; they also view the processes with the employment of the human resources perspective of it," Spikes said.
And they make sure providers like Seedlinks meet all medical requirements.
“We have to have a licensed professional on staff,” Spiker said. "So we have to have a clinical director who’s also a licensed professional counselor. Our clinicians must have bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in psychology, social work, sociology and counseling.”
Chief Operating Officer Latari Fleming is in charge of daily operations. He described two main programs; mental health rehab and Assertive Community Treatment or ‘ACT’ for severe patients.
“We actually go out into the community. We help them get adapted back into society after they may have left our facility," Fleming said.
“Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital,” said Melanie Vojak, the ACT program coordinator. "People who are prone to going into the hospital or into jail; we try to keep them in the community.”
After watching our initial story on behavioral health fraud, license counselor Adrienne Lewis was concerned.
“My first thought was, great, now people are going to assume all mental health agencies are scamming; that we’re not helping, we’re just in it for the money. That is not accurate whatsoever," Lewis said.
Lewis says it’s her goal to provide quality services, while letting Seedlinks’ patients know: “They are not alone. We can provide them with support. We can help them create safe and nurturing environments.”
“They care about them here,” said Melody Smith. "And I don’t see that at most agencies. Most agencies don’t get personal with you; they do here.”
Smith is a Seedlinks patient, and says there were issues between her and her kids, and their father, and Seedlinks has been helpful for all.
“We’ve been through two other counseling agencies,” Smith said. "We were referred over here by the last one, and they’ve done an awesome job so far.”
“You have to have a heart for this. If you don’t have a heart to service or help people, then this social services field is not for you," Fleming said.
And Williams wants it known — his company is not on an island.
“I know there are other providers in the city of Shreveport that believe the same thing,” Williams said. "Our integrity is high. We’re doing the right thing and those are the companies I’m speaking up for.”
HB211 was carried by Horton and in a recent interview she made note of the ongoing problem in behavioral healthcare: “There are only 13 states that are non-compliant when demanding healthcare providers get a background check; our behavioral healthcare providers.”
And a report from the Office of the Inspector General emphasizes her point, showing that Louisiana and Arkansas are among the 13 that have not implemented criminal background checks.