10/27/04 — Cherry, O'Berry back off alliance

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Cherry, O'Berry back off alliance

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 27, 2004 2:04 PM

The alliance planned between Cherry Hospital and O'Berry Center in January has been suspended.

Mike Moseley, director of the state Division of Mental Health, said Tuesday that in the process of combining services, "we have encountered some issues that have caused us to rethink our approach."

He cited vacancies at Cherry Hospital, especially in the areas of medical and psychiatric staff, as reasons behind the decision.

"We have some key clinical staff who have left Cherry Hospital and we're quite concerned about that," he said. "We want to stabilize that as quickly as possible."

As a result, he said in a memo issued Monday, all plans to merge any functions and services at Cherry and O'Berry have been suspended.

Part of the plan had been for Cherry and O'Berry to be overseen by one director, Dr. Jerry Lyall.

Dr. Jerry Edwards had retired his position as Cherry director.

Now, instead of working under one director, a new interim director will be named at Cherry Hospital, and Lyall will revert to his duties as director at O'Berry.

Moseley said that while it made sense to double up on some staff positions, combining clinical services proved more challenging. Cherry is a psychiatric hospital, and O'Berry serves people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

"As things moved forward, it was determined that we needed to make sure that we were very comfortable to maintain the clinical separation of the two campuses," he said. "We were not comfortable that we were moving in a direction that was going to maintain the integrity of both campuses."

Dr. James Osberg, most recently the team leader in the state's Operated Services Section, will serve as interim director at Cherry until a permanent director can be found. Lyall, who had been tapped to oversee both institutions after Cherry Director Jerry Edwards' retirement, will continue his responsibilities at O'Berry.

Edwards has been reassigned to work out of the central office in Raleigh.

In Moseley's memo, he said that Lyall and Osberg will jointly oversee the functions of the two facilities and will work together on specialized services at O'Berry. Moseley said the two directors will determine which functions of the two hospitals should be blended and submit recommendations to the state.

Moseley said his office will continue to look at ways to consolidate, but not under one administrator.

"We're just not going to have these two facilities reporting to an alliance director," he said. "We feel it's important to reinstall a director at Cherry Hospital and that Dr. Osberg, just as Dr. Lyall, will report to the Raleigh office."

In the memo, Moseley expressed appreciation to Lyall for his efforts during the alliance of the two hospitals thus far and said he looks forward to what the realignment will bring.

"I believe that with their leadership both institutions will continue to fulfill their mission of providing high quality services to the most vulnerable of North Carolina citizens with disabilities," he said.