01/21/04 — Eastpointe official says Wayne receiving same care

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Eastpointe official says Wayne receiving same care

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on January 21, 2004 2:02 PM

The merger of four county mental health agencies has not limited Wayne County residents' access to services, Eastpointe officials said Tuesday.

However, the state's reform of its mental health system still has many unknowns, Director Jack St. Clair told the Wayne County commissioners.

"The numbers of people served have remained fairly constant for Wayne County," St. Clair said, adding that Eastpointe has not changed its criteria for seeing clients.

But the crux of the reforms remains to target services to people in the highest need, he added. The state is expected this spring to redefine the clients it hopes to serve.

Eastpointe is still planning for a transition to a system where most services will be provided by private individuals and businesses, St. Clair said.

This will be a challenge in rural areas of the state that do not have these types of professionals in their communities, he said. Wayne County is probably the most fortunate of the four counties in Eastpointe's coverage area, he added.

Board Chairman Ken Gerrard asked if Eastpointe has waiting lists for its services.

No, St. Clair said, but people do sometimes have to wait as long as two weeks before they can make an appointment with a counselor. The state reform legislation will eventually force the county centers to get that wait down to a week or less.

Did the merger create any duplication of services? Commissioner Andy Anderson asked.

Eastpointe is still in the midst of reorganization, St. Clair said. Some people have been reassigned, and those changes are still shaking out. The agency will continue to eliminate inefficiency, he added.

Eastpointe had some lag in its revenues last summer, finance officer Ken Jones said. This was mainly due to the need to get new ID numbers for federal and state reimbursements. This caused revenues to fall around $30,000 below expenses during Eastpointe's first three months. But the numbers from October through December 2003 look much better, Jones said. A preliminary look shows a $100,000 profit during the quarter.

Eastpointe was formed July 1, 2003, from a merger of the Wayne County Mental Health Center and the Duplin-Sampson-Lenoir center. It now is responsible for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services in the four-county region.