Mental Health Services Transition Delayed

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Wake County finds itself a month behind schedule as it transitions from a provider of mental health services at the WakeBrook Recovery Center to a landlord overseeing the property.

In October, Wake County partnered with UNC Health Care to provide mental health services at the county-owned WakeBrook campus.

Because the county’s new local management entity, Alliance Behavioral Health Care, provides funding to WakeBrook, the county must partner with another organization to provide the service.

The county will continue to own the WakeBrook building and lease it to UNC Health Care.

WakeBrook will now use all 48 beds in the facility. Today, 16 go unused, while the remaining 32 are used for non-hospital drug withdrawal and substance abuse rehabilitation.

According to the partnership, 16 of the substance abuse rehab beds will soon be used for inpatient psychiatric beds.

The goal of the transition is to keep more people in crisis out of emergency rooms, where staff are often not trained or equipped to handle them.

Emergency rooms will be able to discharge patients to the center where they will receive more specialized care. It also frees up more beds in hospital emergency departments.

This requires a change in the center’s license.

“We’ve had a couple of challenges in licensing those services,” said Denise Foreman, assistant to the County Manager.

Crisis and assessment services were set to “go live” Jan. 1. Those services have been pushed back to Feb. 1.

The licensure for the 32 beds must go through the state and must meet federal Medicaid requirements, explained Foreman.

“They’re just talking longer than we thought,” she said.

This also pushes back the go-live dates for recovery services and the 16 in-patient hospital beds. All services provided by the UNC Healthcare partnership will be implemented by July 1, Foreman said.

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