August 04 2015
HAINES – Today, Lynn Canal Counseling Services (Lynn Canal) and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) announced the consolidation of their behavioral health services as a step toward securing sustainable comprehensive mental health and substance abuse services for the communities of Haines and Klukwan. Through the consolidation, SEARHC will provide all management and operational support to Lynn Canal, which will retain its name and become a new Haines-based department of SEARHC. The consolidation is expected to be completed by October 1, 2015.
“As a board, our responsibility is to the communities we serve,” said Lynn Canal Board Chair Jansy Hansen. “We are fully convinced that joining hands with SEARHC is a great opportunity for Lynn Canal to continue providing the level of behavioral health services our communities deserve today as well as in the future.”
Lynn Canal Executive Director Kelly Williamson, LPC, has been in Haines for five years and understands too well the economic climate and forecast for healthcare services. “I truly care about this community and am passionate about ensuring behavioral health services are at a level that benefits the people who live here. By being proactive and consolidating with SEARHC’s behavioral health services, I believe we will be able to not only maintain the level and quality of services, but improve them as well.”
Both organizations recognize the value of consolidating services and reducing operational expenses in response to marketplace challenges to preserve their missions. Earlier this year Alaska’s governor called for a budget reduction in Medicaid of $20 million “through efficiencies and tightening program rules.” The impact of this, as well as additional state budget constraints, combined with the cost of providing services in rural and small markets, drives delivery costs up. Simultaneously, to ensure high-quality services and access, quality staffing levels must be maintained.
“The fast changing Alaska healthcare landscape, coupled with declining budgetary support, points to the need for and importance of collaborating with quality providers to offer valuable healthcare services,” said SEARHC President and Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Clement. “By consolidating our behavioral health services, both Lynn Canal and SEARHC can increase operating efficiencies while advancing our respective missions and providing excellent behavioral health services.”
Lynn Canal and SEARHC provide behavioral health services, in part, through monies received from the state of Alaska’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery (CBHTR) grant award. However, by consolidating services and decreasing the combined administrative expenses, the dollars to provide behavioral health services will go farther. Lynn Canal is designated as a Community Behavioral Health Center and is required to provide psychiatric emergency services; outpatient treatment for adults with severe mental illness; outpatient services for high-risk children in early childhood and/or youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families, and adult outpatient substance abuse disorder treatment.
Lynn Canal’s staff and clients will be blended into SEARHC’s clinic-based framework, with staffing determined by the volume of service needed. Additionally, SEARHC will assume Lynn Canal’s current lease in Haines, where behavioral health services will continue to be delivered as well as at SEARHC’s Haines Health Center.
Jointly, Lynn Canal and SEARHC will offer a comprehensive portfolio of services, including:
Lynn Canal Board Member Lenise Henderson-Fontenot commented, “This consolidation of behavioral health services is a win-win for all of us. Lynn Canal can see a sustainable future and, together, we will offer comprehensive services to meet the changing needs of our communities.”
An advisory committee composed of Lynn Canal board members and staff from both organizations will be established to ensure a smooth transition of services. Transition of retained employees and administrative functions, as well as client service functions, to SEARHC will take effect October 1, 2015.
“As the behavioral health needs of the communities grow,” said Clement, “we will grow the staff and clinicians to ensure we meet those needs. There are tremendous benefits in consolidating our behavioral health services with Lynn Canal, the greatest of which is increased access and improvements in the quality of services provided to our patients and communities.”