Local News

New DHHS secretary: Quality of care has to be focus

Posted February 3, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— If perception is reality, it's the job of new Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler to fix a broken system.

"The top priority, I guess, has to be to recreate a trust and confidence in this agency that, to a great degree, has been lost over the years," Cansler said Tuesday.

Web only: DHHS secretary sit-down interview Web only: DHHS secretary sit-down interview

Cansler, a former deputy secretary for the department, is taking over a system plagued by abuse and neglect at its psychiatric hospitals. Last year, two of the three state facilities came under scrutiny at some point for their handling of patients.

At one hospital, a patient died after he sat nearly 24 hours untreated.

"Quality of care has to be our focus," Cansler said.

He believes systemic problems stem from a lack of leadership, training and accountability.

To help achieve his goals, Cansler says he is creating a zero-tolerance policy.

"We're going to really take a hard line that if we understand there's abuse or neglect of a patient, then we're going to remove the employee or employees," Cansler said.

"If we find the abuse and neglect did not occur, then we can reinstate. But we're not going to allow (employees) in our hospitals to mistreat patients."

Cansler also says that improving patient care will require higher salaries for hospital staff and management.

"It does not mean you have to have new dollars for everything," he said. "It means, sometimes, you have to reallocate or leverage existing dollars and find ways to do it."


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  • ezLikeSundayMorning Feb 4, 2009

    The problems at the Mental Health institutions are certainly the most important right now. As far as saving money, I agree, everywhere in state gov't the top people create advisor postions for people they want to work with. Same with Gov Perdue creating the education CEO. I don't think it's always political, usually people come to depend on key people and feel they need to hold on to them as they move up.

  • elatsmith Feb 3, 2009

    first fire all agency spokespersons.Why should tax payers pay a talking head to lie lie lie some more, just let the agency heads themselves do it directly. That would save a couple hundred grand. Then drug test every state employee. The cost is $3.88 each. Fire everyone that tests positive and keep their vacation, sick, retirement, bonus leave etc in the state coffers that will save millions. Also tax payers will be more satisfied knowing employees are being monitored and state employees who dont drug it up will have increased morale knowing the addict coworkers are gone.Then cut the positions that dont do pt. care. We are so top heavy with created adminstrative jobs where they never see patients, arent we there to take care of patients? Anyone who hasnt wiped a but or gave meds or mopped a floor in 90 days should be first on the chopping block. Then psych testing for new hires to evaluate temperment for this job and pay the ones who make it and treat staff like people.

  • Newshound Feb 3, 2009

    I would have to agree. fi they need to pay the direct caregivers more to be able to get better quality people then perhaps those salaries at the top end should be cut in half and redirected to the health care techs evenly. It not like their supervision is actually helping the state. Although some of those salaries near the top are actually doctors/medical professionals who earn that pay. but all that fluff inbetween can be cut in half as far as im concerned.

  • LuvLivingInCary Feb 3, 2009

    wasn't this guy a lobbyist for csc-the winner of that shiny new medicaid contract worth over 200 million...

  • gumby Feb 3, 2009

    HOLY SMOKES... GO to http://apps.newsobserver.com/know/osp/ and look at the salaries for Health and Human Services. You can sort by salary and then go to the last page... be prepared to be shocked. If Bev wants to start saving money and DHHS wants a better image, get out the knife and cut some pay.