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Gracepoint emerges, advocating for behavioral health services

Mental Health Care Inc. (Hillsborough/Pasco counties), Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services Inc. (Pinellas County), and Agency for Community Treatment Services Inc. (Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Broward counties) agreed to merge into Gracepoint Management Inc.. Gracepoint will bid for behavioral health contracts through government and commercial health plans. The model also supports a large degree of autonomy and budget control for each Gracepoint member.

“Florida is planning to bid all of its behavioral health services. As a larger and stronger organization, Gracepoint can and will reduce our administrative costs. We will hone our focus on behavioral health and wellness,” said Guy King, chair of the Gracepoint merger task force and board chair of Mental Health Care.

“Our member agencies have served our communities for decades. Our history as partners with the Tampa Bay community was very important as we developed our plans. We will continue serving people in our communities as we adapt to this quickly changing health care environment. Our Gracepoint Management model uses more of the public’s funding directly on services for people. It also creates a seamless array of behavioral health care programs across seven counties,” said Joseph F. Rutherford, CEO of Mental Health Care and CEO of Gracepoint Management.

One board member and the CEO from each partner sits on the six-member Gracepoint Management board. The CEO and board advisory committees are flexible and will grow when other providers join the organization.

Larger behavioral health providers are more attractive partners for Accountable Care Organizations, managed care companies and HMOs. They produce cost-effective expertise, and can manage complex behavioral health diagnoses. They are also attractive partners for hospitals, which may not have behavioral health specialists on staff.

The three providers are respected and accredited behavioral health and drug and alcohol treatment centers that have helped hundreds of thousands find their own paths to wellness.

“Together our three behavioral health crisis locations will be the largest in Florida with 119 adult, 29 child and 15 crisis diversion beds. The sites also serve psychiatrists in training from University of South Florida giving our patients access to new therapies,” explained Tom Wedekind, CEO of PEHMS.

“We started our efforts by moving ACTS detox center onto the Mental Health Care Seminole Heights campus in December. Housing all the crisis services on one campus works well for our patients and for law enforcement. We’ve stopped the treks across town. When medical evaluation shows a need for mental health rather than detox, our mental health partner is next door," said Richard Brown, CEO of ACTS.

“Our crisis care for mental health—especially when clients are also abusing drugs or alcohol—is in the spotlight now after the mass slayings across the U.S. We’ve offered our expertise to further improve standards and treatments that help people achieve and maintain their best lives. We’re also educating people about behavioral health, explaining Florida’s Baker and Marchman acts and advocating for people with behavioral illness.

“We are more than a place for behavioral health care. We are the source for wellness. This is all we do, and we help people achieve their best lives,” said Rutherford.

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