Commission Roundup: UNC Health Care Will Operate Wake’s Mental Health Center

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Wake County Commissioners Monday approved a partnership  with UNC Health care to begin managing care at the WakeBrook Recovery Center.

The county found itself in the middle of a conflict of interest that stemmed from the creation of the county’s new local management entity, Alliance Behavioral Health Care. According to state and federal Medicaid laws, the county cannot simultaneously be a provider and a funder of this type of health care.

Because Alliance will be providing funding for WakeBrook, the county has partnered with UNC Health Care to provide services to patients.

As Commissioner Erv Portman rephrased it, the county’s role is shifting from provider to landlord.

The county will continue to own the recovery center and enter into a lease agreement with UNC Heath Care.

Commissioners approved a letter of intent to go forward with the partnership, but county and UNC Health Care staff still need to finalize budgets, service plans and funding agreements.

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WakeBrook recovery center provides substance abuse treatment.

The partnership will help WakeBrook use all 48 beds in the facility. Today, 16 go unused; the remaining are for non-hospital substance abuse rehabilitation.

By turning 16 of its substance abuse rehab beds into inpatient psychiatric beds, hospital emergency rooms will be able to discharge people in crisis from the hospital directly to WakeBrook. The empty beds will be used for facility-based crisis, enabling patients to stay longer than 24 hours.

Officials hope adding more beds at WakeBrook will alleviate some of the pressure experienced by local hospitals overloaded with mentally ill patients.

Commissioners also approved a funding agreement between Alliance and Holly Hill Hospital to continue providing in-patient care to those with mental illness or disabilities.

Commissioners Table Money for Veterans Day Parade
Wake County Commissioners Monday delayed a vote on a $1,500 contribution to this year’s Veterans Day parade in order to find an alternative funding source.

Raleigh City Councilor Randy Stagner, a retired U.S. Army colonel, requested $1,500 from both the city and the county for the Nov. 10 parade, which takes place in downtown Raleigh. The City Council approved the contribution earlier this month.

But County Commissioners expressed mixed opinions about funding an event.

Commissioner Tony Gurley said allocating general taxpayer money for that purpose sets a bad precedent for other events and parties.

Gurley said because the parade is being promoted by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the funding could come from hotel and meal tax money instead of money from the county’s general fund.

Board Chair Paul Coble suggested that the bureau could kick in the $3,000 for both the county and the city.

Commissioner Erv Portman disagreed and argued to fund the project.

“I’m shocked we’re having this conversation for $1,500,” he said.

County Manager David Cooke said in the grand scheme of Wake County’s $950 million budget, $1,500 could be covered and taken out of the manager’s budget. If there were any problems, he said, it would be adjusted at the end of the year.

Commissioner Phil Matthews, a veteran, suggested tabling the request until the board’s next meeting Nov. 5.

Commissioners voted 5 to 2 in favor of holding the item for further discussion.

Firearms Education Center Gets New Roof
The county’s firearm education center will be getting a new roof after County Commissioners approved a $799,457 contract with Owens Roofing of Raleigh.

The roof hasn’t been replaced since the building was constructed in 1999. The roof had a 10-year warranty. The roof has started to deteriorate and there is evidence of water damage in parts of the building.

Commissioner Joe Bryan questioned why a 13-year old roof already needs to be replaced. He said the county holds the school district to higher construction and maintenance standards.

“What are we doing to ensure our roofs last a long longer than 10 years?” he said.

Wake County FDC Project Manager Mark Forestieri said when the center was built, 20-year warranties required a premium and that 10 years was the standard. Since then, 20 years has become the standard and the durability has improved.

One thought on “Commission Roundup: UNC Health Care Will Operate Wake’s Mental Health Center

  1. It’s unbelavialble the mental ill persons are still treated as criminals in this country. If you go to a hospital with a heart attack you expect to be treated with dignity. Not so if you show up at the Wake brook facility in Raleigh N.C. If you spin out of control you can expect to be tased, hand cuffed, leg ironed and placed in a cofined padded room, all under the direction of armed police officers. I hope the new partnership with UNC can change this.