Smoky Mountain Center privatizes servicesWritten by Giles Morris
Smoky Mountain Center, the mental health management entity for Western North Carolina, has finally gotten itself out of the game of providing services.
The suite of programs known as Smoky Operated Services would be handed over to a partnership forged between Appalachian Community Services and Jackson County Psychological Services, two local mental health providers.
Those services include the Adult Recovery Unit at Balsam Center, the psychiatric walk-in and outpatient services at Haywood Regional Medical Center, and mobile crisis services in a seven-county area. Meridian Behavioral Health of Waynesville had also submitted a bid to take over the services, which are supported by approximately $4.5 million in state funding each year.
Smoky Mountain Center CEO Brian Ingraham said the partnership between Appalachian Community Services, which operates in the far western counties, and Jackson/Haywood Psychological Services is best equipped to serve the large region, which was one of the chief criteria in the decision.
“We have all the seven counties covered in one beautiful model which will create a continuum of services with a synergy that didn’t exist before in the seven counties,” Ingraham said.
Under state mental health reform, Smoky Mountain Center could no longer provide services directly to patients since it acts as a Medicaid payer, dispersing state and federal money.
Duncan Sumpter, CEO of Appalachian Community Services, said the partnership with Jackson County Psychological Services stems from a desire to guarantee access to the people who need these services.
Ingraham said the handover would not result in any interruption of services to the clients.
“We want this to be seamless. We don’t want anyone out there worrying about not having services,” Ingraham said.