Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Haley to hire mental health supervisors

TAMPA — Leaders at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center previously dismissed the claim that some of the unlicensed psychologists on their staff received inadequate supervision.

But five months after the St. Petersburg Times reported those concerns, Haley on Friday confirmed that it will soon hire up to 12 supervisors to oversee operations for its mental health services.

Dr. Edward Cutolo, Haley's chief of staff, said in an interview the decision is part of an overall re-evaluation of operations to improve performance and to better cope with an ever increasing number of patients.

He said the changes had nothing to do with allegations raised in previous Times articles or a staffer's complaint that triggered those stories.

The Florida Department of Health has been investigating allegations about unlicensed psychology at Haley, which is the nation's busiest Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

The Times could not determine late Friday if that inquiry is continuing.

Cutolo also said that Dr. Arthur Rosenblatt, who had supervised roughly 36 psychologists by himself, had moved on to other duties within Haley, though the move is not considered a demotion.

Rosenblatt, who could not be reached for comment, will retain supervisory responsibilities, though not with psychologists.

In December, the VA said about eight of 36 staff psychologists had not received licenses. One licensed psychologist complained that unlicensed psychologists improperly performed some of the duties of licensed staff members.

All the unlicensed workers, Haley said, were on track to receive their licenses, which require a certain level of clinical experience.

The psychologist who filed the complaint, Dr. Brian Nussbaum, said in December that three of four psychologists in Haley's posttraumatic stress disorder clinic were unlicensed.

Nussbaum said he feared patient care was endangered by the inexperienced psychologists treating some of the most troubled VA patients.

"I'm very pleased with that I see going on now and what they're doing," Nussbaum said Friday. "I'm glad to see actual change. I can't imagine the initial complaint didn't play some role in bringing this about."

Cutolo said he did not have a timetable for when the supervisors would be hired, though he said some were expected to be employees already at Haley.

In addition, the supervisors will oversee the work of a range of employees, including psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists.

John Pickens, a regional spokesman for the VA in Florida, said the agency has received additional funding to provide for veterans' mental health needs. And that extra funding requires programs to be re-evaluated and, in some cases, supervised differently.

Cutolo said, "It's just an opportune time to change our whole operational structure. We've grown so rapidly, we're looking at ways to improve services."

In two years, he said, the number of mental health workers within the Haley system has increased from 80 to 250.

Cutolo said some employees had previously had quasi-supervisory duties. But often, their authority was limited in many ways.

William R. Levesque can be reached at or (813) 226-3436.

Haley to hire mental health supervisors 05/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 23, 2008 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Solar eclipse, gender gap, new schools and more


    TOTAL ECLIPSE: More than 8,000 Hernando County students skip school after their school district gives them excused absences for the day. Students who …

    Students at Bayonet Point Middle School observe the solar eclipse Monday through their special eclipse glasses.
  2. Epilogue: Martin Giles a man of few, but strong, words for WFLA-AM 970


    As the story goes, his higher-ups at the Misawa Air Base in Japan were clear with their edict to Martin Giles: It was only the mid-1950s, not far enough away from World War II for the Japanese to be trusted.

    Martin Giles, a longtime radio news anchor for WFLA-AM 970, died last week at the age of 80.
  3. Forecast: Minimal rain, for now, as hot temperatures prevail across Tampa Bay


    Tampa Bay residents can expect a calm, rain-free start to Tuesday before showers arrive in the evening.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Afghanistan reaction mixed on Trump's tough-talking speech


    KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghans on Tuesday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's harsh words for Pakistan in a speech outlining his strategy for the war-torn country that critics said offered little in the way of details and ruled out nation-building.

    President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. [Associated Press]