R-C Human Services stays open

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 22, 2005

AHOSKIE – In 2001, the North Carolina Legislature passed a law and developed a State Plan to implement reform for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addiction disorders.

This mandate has impacted mental health services throughout North Carolina and locally in the four county area served by Roanoke-Chowan Human Services Center.

The main philosophy and goals of the plan has remained constant since the law came into effect.

How the law is implemented is changing over time as the Division of Mental Health responds to recommendations from citizens and consumers.

As a foundation for change, System Reform in North Carolina has these main themes:

* People with disabilities are full citizens and should have the same opportunities as other citizens to live meaningful and satisfying lives in communities of their choice.

* People with disabilities must be included in decision making and carefully listened to in order to make sure they are integrated more fully in their communities and that needed services and supports are available.

In response to this, the Roanoke-Chowan Consumer and Family Advisory Council (CFAC) was formed.

CFAC is made up of consumers and family members who give their input and review all aspects of the public system of services and supports.

* Consumers and their families should be able to choose among quality service providers.

* The system must properly serve and support people at risk, minority/ethnic groups traditionally underserved and people with more than one disorder.

* The state’s limited resources are to be focused on serving and supporting people with the most severe disabilities in communities rather than in institutions.

* People receiving services and supports who are not in a target population (people considered to have the most severe disabilities) will be assisted in identifying other resources.

* Practices that show positive outcomes for people with disabilities must be continued and those that don’t show positive outcomes will be revised.

* The individual is at the heart of reform efforts and is in charge of a planning process to decide on real life outcomes he/she wants and to determine ways to achieve these outcomes.

* People in state facilities who can be supported in communities need to move to the communities.

* There will be a consistent statewide process for entering and leaving public services and supports.

* There must be continuous improvement in the quality of services and supports provided.

In response to the system reform mandate, RCHSC began by developing their own Local Business Plan to guide the Center in making the required changes.

As described above, the consumer must have a choice of providers.

In response to this, many qualified private service providers are now offering mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services to consumers.

This gives consumers more choices of service providers than ever before in the history of mental health.

Divestiture of services has become a word used often in the world of mental health over the past few years.

Many of RCHSC staff members have joined private providers and continue to deliver the same quality services as they did while on staff at RCHSC.

The Center will continue to provide psychiatric, medical, and other outpatient services.

As of July 1, 2005, RCHSC will be totally divested the operation of each of its satellite offices to private providers.

Satellite offices were located in Bertie, Gates and Northampton counties.

RCHSC is still responsible for oversight of provision of services in those counties as well as Hertford County.

When system reform is fully implemented, RCHSC will be a manager and overseer of services to assure quality, appropriateness, continuity and the best use of state dollars.

CFAC will remain a vitally important aspect of the continuing process, as consumers and family members guide RCHSC in this evolving process.

Roanoke- Human Services Center is not going away, and they are not closing their doors. They will remain the portal of entry to mental health, developmental disabilities and substance services for the residents of Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties.

They will insure quality services and supports are available and provided to consumers and ensure

services are easily accessible and that consumers and their families have a choice in who delivers their services.

To learn more about system reform, to ask questions about how reform will impact the Roanoke-Chowan area, or to learn more about CFAC, contact RCHSC at 332-4137.