RCHS merges to form regional agency

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2006

AHOSKIE – Over the past 18 months, local citizens have expressed concern over the future of Roanoke-Chowan Human Services (RCHS).

Since the state of North Carolina decided to allow private providers to offer mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services, the roles of entities such as RCHS have been basically reduced to that of an administrator.

Now, three neighboring agencies that govern public mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services are joining forces to create a large, regional management entity to serve eight counties: Bertie, Craven, Gates, Hertford, Jones, Northampton, Pamlico and Pitt.

Boards of Directors for all three organizations will meet for the first time September 14 to initiate the effort.

The three organizations have been making sweeping changes over the last several years in response to state legislative mandates.

Most significantly, each organization has established an active Consumer-Family Advisory Committee to help shape the service delivery system; has divested services to private providers throughout the region and has established strong systems of accountability to ensure high quality of local mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability services.

During the transition period, Joy Futrell, CEO of Roanoke-Chowan Human Services, has attended countless meetings of local county commission boards to keep the R-C area government officials up to date on the progress of possible mergers. Now that the merger is taking place, Futrell says she feels good above the impending joint venture.

“All three partners want to maintain strong local presence in each community and work with local providers to make sure consumers and families get the services they need close to home,” Futrell said.

Roy Wilson, CEO of Neuse Center, one of the partners, says, “We are excited about this partnership in order to better manage the quality of services provided to our citizens and take advantage of economies of scale.”

Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott, adds “our effort will draw from the strengths and expertise of each of the three partners, building the best possible regional organization.”

The new regional organization meets state legislative requirements that public “local management entities” serve at least six counties or 200,000 people.

“More importantly,” Wilson notes, “these three partners share a strong vision and mission to serve consumers and families with committed, dedicated, high quality, local providers.

We have all been in this business a long time and we see this as an opportunity to maximize our strengths for the benefit of our consumers and our communities.”

The Board of Directors dinner will be held at 7:30 p.m. on September 14 at the Cooperative Extension Center in Greenville.

This will be a social gathering without formal business.