09/29/09 — Eastpointe will cut some patient care

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Eastpointe will cut some patient care

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on September 29, 2009 1:46 PM

Faced with a $4.6 billion budget shortfall this year, the General Assembly looked toward the state mental health system for help balancing its budget, cutting up to $400 million from services for mentally ill patients, substance abusers and the developmentally disabled.

Locally, that has translated into a $2.7 million cut for the local management entity Eastpointe -- approximately 27 percent of the local management entity's state funding -- and now a series of public meetings has been scheduled to explain what exactly those cuts will mean for clients.

"It's really just to inform the community about the cuts and how they will affect the people who are receiving services," Eastpointe director Ken Jones said.

He explained that of that $2.7 million, the Eastpointe board of directors has decided to make up $1 million of that in fund balance, and another $200,000 to $250,000 in in-house administrative cuts through hiring freezes and other measures.

The rest, however, will have to come out of services.

"Most of the cuts are coming from, and have been handed down by the state to, the developmentally disabled population. The Medicaid cuts are coming from the mentally ill and substance abuse populations," he said.

Included in those cuts are the community support services for both children and adults, which will be eliminated over the next two years.

"That is going away," Jones said. "That service will no longer be available for new consumers as of Jan. 1.

"Hopefully they will do something to replace that -- the state's working on a way to provide better and more efficient services -- but there are no assurances."

Another program that is being restructured and restricted are the level three and four group homes for children.

One area that will not be affected, Jones said, is emergency and crisis care.

But as to how exactly many of these cuts will be implemented this year, that's what Eastpointe officials are currently working on -- and the reason they are holding the series of community forums in October.

"We have made a plan about how to implement these cuts, and we're going to present that to the community for their input, and then decide how to proceed from there," Jones said. "Hopefully this will give the community a chance to give us input on how we can provide services more efficiently."

The forums will begin on Thursday at the Wayne Center, 208 W. Chestnut St., from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Others will be held at:

*Eastpointe Kinston site, 2901 N. Heritage St., Kinston, auditorium, Oct. 6, 6-7:30 p.m.

*Eastpointe Beulaville site, 514 E. Main St., Beulaville, second floor conference room, Oct. 8, 6-7:30 p.m.

*Sampson Community College in Clinton, occupational building, room 140, Oct. 12, 6-7:30 p.m.

Eastpointe serves approximately 10,000 consumers in Wayne, Duplin, Lenoir and Sampson counties.