Fifth time's a charm for therapeutic group home
Saturday, September 5th 2009, 4:00 AM ChST
It seems the fifth time's a charm when it comes to the Department of Mental Health's attempts to award a request for proposal for therapeutic group home services. Major changes are in store for teens in the group home, unless a protest is filed by the current vendor.
When it comes to awarding a request for proposal for therapeutic group home services, the agency has had trouble getting it right. But it appears the department has made a decision to award the RFP to Dr. Marc Zackheim's Associates in Clinical Psychology. KUAM News obtained a copy of a letter sent by acting Mental Health director Dr. Andrea Leitheiser informing current provider Latte Treatment that the agency intended to award the bid to Zackheim. Latte Treatment has been providing services, with results, for more than a year and is actually still owed in excess of $300,000 for services rendered. Today marked the deadline for the company to file a protest to the award.
KUAM meanwhile contacted Dr. Zackheim, who claimed he had no knowledge he'd been selected, saying only he was told to wait until the end of this week. "Really," he maintained, I can't say anything until I know for sure that everything is settled, and it's not as yet."
Parents of children receiving treatment in the therapeutic group homes expressed concerns in the past about Zackheim taking over the contract. Specifically, concerns were raised after the psychologist was arrested and charged with practicing without a license and battery for allegedly touching the genitalia of boys that stayed at the group home. Those charges were ultimately thrown out and Zackheim continues to run his business, blaming the allegations on a disgruntled employee.
He also paid for several Mental Health employees to visit his Indiana-based group home last year, raising some concerns from officials on island.
Dr. Leitheiser meanwhile has failed to return numerous phone calls for comment from KUAM, as well as from her oversight chair, Senator Frank Blas, Jr. (R), who noted, "Are we crafting RFPs to fit a certain individual, or are we crafting an RFP based on what a consumer needs?" Senator Blas continued, "Again, it's because of the lack of information and the lack of communication that was promised to the committee that doesn't sit well, because then there are concerns that are brought to me otherwise, and I'm not able to answer that or find the answers for that. And now it's forced my hand to call for this oversight hearing."
The oversight is scheduled for early January. As of news time, Latte Treatment and Dr. Luis Valdez did not return calls for comment about whether they had filed a protest by today's deadline.