We have been in a state of constant change over the past few years. Looking back, I am very pleased with the progress we made in FY 2009-2010. In one of the most challenging economic environment in decades, we acted responsibly and decisively to maintain a quality system of mental health care in Cumberland County.
The need for improved access to mental health services is a nationwide challenge which our agency continues to answer. Our response has been to continue to explore ways to improve accessibility. Integrating mental health screening and care into primary medical care clinics and other public agencies has also been a way of expanding access to care. Mental health screenings are now regularly done at our local health department and detention center. Training primary care physicians, local law enforcement officers and court officials to identify mental health needs and respond to them appropriately has been another way we have addressed the growing need for mental health services.
In this time of economic crisis, addressing emerging community needs on a financially sound basis has become more important than ever. We realize that our consumer’s needs are often complicated by other needs. It is a testimony to the extremely capable and dedicated Volunteer Services Department that we have been able to maintain a food pantry, clothing closet and emergency funds to address these needs. We were also able to utilize funds from the city, identified as Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing monies, to assist consumers with paying rent and utility bills. We were awarded $265,000 in these funds during the fiscal year allowing us to assist 197 individuals and their families.
We continue to explore ways to make the administration of our system more efficient and effective. In the past fiscal year we implemented an electronic claims submission and adjudication application developed by our staff. We also expanded the use of video and telephone conferencing to provide access to important state meetings without having to use valuable time to travel away from the agency. Every single operation of the agency, from finance to maintenance, has been examined to provide the most efficient approach to operating. This has helped us to continue to meet the needs of a growing population with no budgetary increases for the last seven years.
I am proud of our dedicated staff and the way this agency has responded to the needs of our community, and I look forward with confidence as we continue our commitment to caring for people living with mental illness, substance abuse and developmental disabilities needs.
Hank Debnam, M.P.H.