Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Two mental health agencies consolidating operations

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two large Hamilton County mental health agencies are merging into a single agency that hopes to reduce costs while improving services for more than 2,500 people with severe mental illnesses.

The new nonprofit agency - Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services - reflects the combination of QC/M, an agency that provides treatment and case management services, and CRI, a provider of residential and vocational services.

While the new name is being announced today, the merger has been in the works since January and takes effect July 1. In June, clients, vendors and others will receive announcements about the change.

Combined, the agency has a $16 million annual budget and a staff of 300 working in 16 locations. In addition to severe mental illnesses, many clients also have substance abuse problems and other disabilities.

"We were two organizations serving similar people. By joining we are able to blend services and expand options for clients," said Tony Dattilo, chief executive of the new agency, who previously ran CRI. Services provided by the agencies include case management services for more than 1,100 people, a day treatment program, several group homes and "shared living" apartments, supervised employment programs, and special programs for deaf and homeless clients.

The merger's timing was prompted by the resignation in December of Mary Campbell, chief executive of QC/M. But with less funding expected in coming years from federal, state and local sources, merging the organizations made sense regardless of Campbell's resignation, Dattilo said.

No layoffs are expected, but about a dozen administrative jobs have been eliminated through attrition in recent months, which saves at least $500,000 in salary, benefits and training costs, Dattilo said.


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