Merger of mental health groups to focus on patients
Mar 02, 2012 (The Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When Pathways Local Management Entity merges with Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare and Mental Health Partners, officials say Cleveland County patients will hardly notice the change.
Most will access services in the same way and from the same providers, said Rhett Melton, area director for Pathways (serving Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties) who will serve as CEO of Partners Behavioral Health Management when the merger is complete in January 2013.
"It should be a more responsive system to local communities -- to the providers, the consumers and the hospitals," he said.
Changes could affect some
Because the care will be managed locally and more emphasis will be placed on quality and consumer outcomes, some consumers may have to find a new provider, Melton said.
"What will happen over time is if the providers are not providing the appropriate services with the outcomes for consumers, we will choose not to contract with them in the future," Melton said. "We can make sure the consumers are getting the right services from the right providers with the right outcomes. We have been advocating for the system to allow us to manage it locally, where we work closely with our communities."
Why is Pathways merging?
Pathways Local Management Entity manages the public sector system for mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disabilities under a contract with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. In April 2011, the Division of Medical Assistance and Department of Health and Human Services requested applications for local management entities to expand and operate as a Medicaid 1915 (b)(c) waiver site. Population requirements prohibited Pathways from participating as a solo agency.
The boards of Pathways, Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare (serving Iredell, Surry and Yadkin counties) and Mental Health Partners (serving Burke and Catawba counties) agreed to merge and submit an application to operate as a Medicaid 1915 (b)(c) waiver site. Boards of Commissioners from all eight counties supported resolutions for the merger.
The new organization, operating under the Medicaid 1915 (b)(c) waiver, allows the management and authorization for Medicaid-funded mental health services to move from Raleigh back to the local level, Melton said.
"This means the system will be managed closer to home by those who know the local resources and the community's abilities to meet the consumer's need," said Melton. "Locally, we are going to be able to put a very high emphasis on the quality of care delivered to the consumer."
Partners Behavioral Health management will continue to have a presence in Cleveland County at the Walk-In Clinic at the Ollie Harris Building, 917 First St., Shelby (beside Cleveland Regional Medical Center) and the Cleveland Recovery and Crisis Center, 609 N. Washington St., Shelby.
"The administrative functions won't change and where we have clinical providers won't change," Melton said.
Anyone who needs help dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse or a developmental disability, can call 1-800-898-5898.
"That number is staffed by clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Melton said. "They will talk with the caller and find out what's going on and can refer the person to the appropriate provider."
Reach Jackie Bridges at 704-669-3337.
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