Mental-health agency addresses concerns at ‘stakeholder meeting’

Published 7:21 am Friday, February 9, 2007

By Staff
ECBH to serve Beaufort County
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
A representative from East Carolina Behavioral Health held a “stakeholder meeting” Wednesday night to hear Beaufort County residents’ concerns about mental-health services and to let them know what the agency would bring to the table.
The meeting was the 15th of its kind in what will be ECBH’s nine-county coverage area. ECBH will be created by the marriage of Roanoke Chowan Health Services, Pitt and Neuse mental health centers, and, if conditions are met, Beaufort County.
Beaufort County commissioners last month voted to break away from Tideland Mental Health Center and have the services it provides rendered by ECBH. Because of a General Assembly directive, Tideland had to merge with another mental-health agency or lose state dollars. The rest of the counties served by Tideland — Hyde, Martin, Washington and Tyrrell — will all be served by Elizabeth City-based Albemarle Mental Health Center.
One of the suggestions Ehlers heard was the need to reopen a crisis unit for people needing mental-health services. Working toward that goal is one of the stipulations county commissioners put on any merger plans with ECBH.
Ehlers said later the unit cannot be opened without a funding commitment from the state or local level, but that ECBH workers understand the need for such an option. To that end, ECBH chief executive officer Roy Wilson will be meeting with leaders from the state Department of Health and Human Services soon, she said.
Ehlers said Wednesday’s meeting was “really about involvement”
Ehlers said Thursday that ECBH hopes to work with Tideland to “transition the clients.” Under current conditions, ECBH has no funding or authority to do that, she said.
ECBH will gain official authority and state funding for Beaufort County services effective July 1 if commissioners stick with ECBH, she said.
From Wednesday’s meeting and the preceding ones, ECBH will draft a local business plan that will be given to Beaufort County by Monday, she said. Commissioners will review it in March.