By Rochelle Moore
June 28, 2007
The Wilson-Greene Mental Health Center will close its doors Friday after operating from a building next to Wilson Medical Center for decades.
Public mental health centers operating in Wilson, Greene, Nash and Edgecombe counties will completely merge Sunday and become The Beacon Center. The administrative offices will be in Rocky Mount, located in the former Edgecombe-Nash Mental Health Center on the Nash General Hospital campus.
"People need to understand that even though the (local management entity) is moving to Rocky Mount, the people doing the services — the private providers — are still doing the services in Wilson," said Karen Salacki, director of the Beacon Center.
"Private providers that are in Wilson County will continue providing the services."
The closing of the mental health center in Wilson County is the final step of the four-county merger, which has been occurring in stages during the past several years. The change is a result of the state Mental Health Reform Act of 2001.
Prior to mental health reform, clients were able to receive mental health services onsite at the Wilson-Greene Mental Health Center.
But that role started changing and the mental health center started turning over services to the private sector.
The mental health center has become a manager of services and contracts with many area providers, some which receive state and local tax dollars for indigent care. Providers also receive payment through insurance, Medicaid and Medicare.
"I am not concerned about the closing of the Wilson-Greene Mental Health Center because most of the services have been divested to private providers," said Gail Boswell, a mental health advocate and consumer in Wilson. "The statistics show that more consumers are being served now than were being served by the Wilson-Greene Mental Health Center."
Wilson residents needing service, including emergency help, now have a toll-free number they can call for service referrals. Someone will be available to answer the call and assess the level of need by a caller. Immediate assistance will be given to people experiencing an emergency situation.
The number — 1-888-893-8640 — is open 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays. Rocky Mount-area callers may also dial 407-2474 for the same service.
"If they have a question about services or they need a referral into services, they can call that number," Salacki said. "They don't have to go to Rocky Mount for services."
The remaining 10 staffers from the Wilson-Greene Mental Health Center will all move to The Beacon Center, except for some temporary office staff. Some of the agency staff have moved to Rocky Mount during the past 18 months.
The Beacon Center will have a board of 20 people, consisting of five from each of the four counties. Each county will need to have a county commissioner on the board. The four counties will also continue to provide money to the Beacon Center through county budgets.
Services provided through the Beacon Center will include telephone screening services, provider enrollment, quality assessment, quality assurance and utilization management, which assesses the type and level of services a client needs.
Jennifer Hancock, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Wilson County, expects to see an increase in calls into the nonprofit agency when the center closes.
"The phone for the center will automatically roll over to Rocky Mount for a while. However, our office anticipates we will field a lot of calls once there is no longer a number in the local phone book, other than ours, that says, 'mental health,'" she said.
The closing of the center will remove a sense of security from some consumers, Hancock said.
"It was like their safety net and possibly the only people they knew in their lives that they felt cared about how they are doing," she said.
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Friday, June 29, 2007
By Rochelle Moore
Posted by david at 4:30 PM Permalink