LifeSkills, Inc. Joining New Regional
Behavioral Health Services Collaborative
Relationship Created to Expand Offerings and Protect Critical “Safety Net” Services
BOWLING GREEN, KY (September 2, 2020) – Five non-profit behavioral health agencies who provide care to more than 64,000 Kentuckians each year are creating a new partnership that will allow them to expand programs, create new alliances and protect safety net services critical to rural Kentucky communities.
LifeSkills, Inc. will be joining forces with Communicare, Inc. in Elizabethtown, Cumberland River Behavioral Health, Inc. in Corbin, Four Rivers Behavioral Health in Paducah and Pennyroyal Center in Hopkinsville to form the Community Health Network of Kentucky, a regional behavioral health collaborative serving 43 counties in western, southcentral, central and southeastern Kentucky.
“The work we do has always been important to the Kentucky families we serve, perhaps never more so than during these times when so many Kentuckians have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Communicare, Inc. CEO Dan Simpson. “This new partnership is a way for us to work together to ensure our services will be available in our communities for years to come.”
Each of the five agencies provide mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disabilities services. Many of these services are considered part of the healthcare “safety net” – services offered to vulnerable populations regardless of their ability to pay.
Even though patients and clients desperately need access to these services, changes in the healthcare industry even before the pandemic made it more difficult for rural behavioral health agencies to provide them. The recent downturn in the U.S. economy has further hampered those efforts – but this collaborative seeks to reverse the trend by strengthening the safety net across the Commonwealth and protecting the provision of services specifically in rural communities.
“We have to be here for the patients who need our services,” said Terry Hudspeth, Chief Executive Officer of Four Rivers Behavioral Health. “Working together will not only help us to better fulfill our current responsibilities to the people we serve, but it also sets us up for growth in the future.”
Agency leaders also see the collaborative as an opportunity to direct more financial resources away from administrative costs and toward the provision of quality care.
“We all have similar fixed operational costs,” said Joe Dan Beavers, President/CEO of Lifeskills, Inc. “But if we can combine efforts to, for example, get a lower cost on new technology or to negotiate for improved reimbursements on the services we provide, that means we can use more of our resources where they’re needed most – taking care of Kentuckians.”
Eric Friedlander, Deputy Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said it’s an innovative response to a growing problem. “We’re lucky to have forward-thinking behavioral health leaders in our state who are working together to keep needed services available in their local communities. These programs shouldn’t just be offered in larger, urban areas. People from Powderly to Pearl should be able to access effective care wherever they live.”
In the coming weeks, the five organizations will be looking for opportunities to combine their programs so they can offer more comprehensive care in each region. For example, where one agency may offer residential treatment options for pregnant mothers only while seeking help with substance use issues, now they will be able to work alongside another agency that specializes in after-care support to make sure both the mother and her new baby remain healthy post-treatment.
“Expanding access to more comprehensive care will not only improve outcomes for the people we serve, but also reduce costs to the healthcare system by providing seamless patient oversight and management,” said Eric Embry, CEO/Executive Director of Pennyroyal Center. Melanie Yeager, Executive Director of Cumberland River Behavioral Health, agreed. “This partnership will allow us to provide local, high-quality care while saving state Medicaid dollars.”
The agencies participating in the Community Health Network offer nearly 60 programs and services in 140 different locations around the state and employ more than 250 licensed behavioral health clinicians. Beavers will serve as the initial Chair of the Board of Directors for the collaborative, but leaders from all five agencies will guide the formation of the partnership.
To learn more about the Community Health Network of Kentucky, visit www.communityhealthky.com.
About Communicare, Inc.
Communicare has been the premiere provider of behavioral health and developmental/intellectual disability services in Kentucky’s heartland since 1967. Our dedicated, professional team strives to ensure quality care to the citizens in our communities. The commitment of our employees, our Board of Directors, and our community partners working together will assure our continued success and allow us to maintain the vast safety net needed for our region’s most vulnerable people.
About Cumberland River Behavioral Health, Inc.
The mission of CRBH is to ensure that all members of our community have an opportunity to achieve their highest potential for living satisfying, productive and valued lives. To this end we are dedicated to developing, organizing and efficiently utilizing resources to plan and provide quality mental health, developmental/intellectual disability, and substance use disorder services.
About Four Rivers Behavioral Health
Four Rivers Behavioral Health is a private, not-for-profit community mental health agency that for more than 50 years has provided comprehensive mental health, substance abuse and developmental/intellectual disability services to clients in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, McCracken, and Marshall Counties.
About LifeSkills, Inc. (which merged with Pennyroyal Center in July 2019)
LifeSkills has been a part of the community for the last 50 years. As a non-profit, community mental health center, LifeSkills supports people who experience mental illness, addictions and developmental disabilities as they build meaningful and independent lives. With the widest array of services for both adults and children in south central Kentucky, LifeSkills gives you greater choice, easy access and proven quality. When it comes to your health, experience matters.
About Pennyroyal Center (which merged with LifeSkills, Inc. in 2019)
The Pennyroyal Center was established on February 15, 1966 as a non-profit, community mental health center. From its inception, Pennyroyal Center has been and continues to be known as the standard of excellence in the fulfillment of its mission to plan and provide person-centered services in behavioral health, substance use, and developmental and intellectual disabilities for all citizens within our region.