During the public comment section of the Lorain County Commissioners’ meeting on April 30, 2019, retiring member of the Board of Directors for the Lorain County Board of Mental Health (LCBMH) Sanford Washington asked the Commissioners for their support and consideration of recent recommendations regarding the merger between LCBMH and the local Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board. Though his tenure on LCBMH is coming to an end, he showed public support for the members who are ready to serve the newly merged organization.
He addressed the Commissioners alongside Pamela Waite from the ADAS Board, to demonstrate the work, care, and collaboration each Board is dedicating to planning for the merger. He shares his prepared remarks below.
Remarks from Sanford Washington:
Good morning, Commissioners. Sanford Washington from Lorain. I currently serve on the Board of Mental Health, and have for the past eight years.
I would like to echo Pam’s [ADAS Board Member] request that you stand behind the Board Members slated for reappointment. In my tenure with the Board of Mental Health, I have worked alongside many of these individuals. They make decisions that carry the potential consequence of life and death, and they do it because their neighbors and loved ones have put their trust in them to do so.
At the end of June, I will step away from my role as a Board Member of the Board of Mental Health. My final appointment to the Board comes to a close as this merger is being planned. I will become a member of the public who trusts that this group of reappointed individuals will do the job, and do it well.
In fact, doing this merger well has been a matter of prime importance. Our boards have worked together in the past to accomplish various initiatives, but those types of partnerships do not compare to the complexities of merging continuums of care, service and treatment, funding and legal requirements of entities that have existed for a collective 80 years.
In our due diligence in this planning, we are working with a consultant who has achieved successful mergers of other boards and nonprofits in the state. This is a complicated process, but we are giving it the care it needs. If you think of the scope of our two systems: on the mental health side, we contract with 17 agencies that serve thousands of people each year, and our crisis hotline took 18,000 calls last year alone. This is going to take some attention and expertise to do well.
I’ve worked with most of you, too, and I truly believe all of you want this done right.
Here’s what we believe will happen if, actually I should say when, we do this merger well:
Joining forces will strengthen our ability to coordinate treatment and recovery services. That will improve our clients’ lives, and also improve the lives of their family members.
This will maximize delivery of behavioral health services. It means providing the right care, in the right setting, at the right time.
And, this partnership will:
Enhance our ability to serve the entire county with high-quality, affordable care.
Enhance our ability to attract and retain critical mental health and substance use personnel.
Keep costs down and enhance our long-term financial viability.
My request is that you take our advice into strong consideration, so that we can achieve this.