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Four Community Mental Health Providers Announce
Creation of a
New Rhode Island Mental Health Network

A new statewide network to provide behavioral healthcare and related services has been created by the affiliation of four existing agencies. The network, Horizon Healthcare Partners (HHP),  is a joint undertaking by NRI Community Services, The Kent Center, Riverwood Mental Health Services, and Newport County Community Mental Health Center.

HHP will be the only community based, statewide, comprehensive service network in Rhode Island, and as such will be uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging opportunities and provide the highest level of care. "The member agencies have recognized that the changing nature of the healthcare system requires
a closer degree of cooperation and integration than has previously been the case" stated Judge Stephen P. Erickson, newly elected chair of the Board of Directors for the network. "HHP will be able to compete in every market and provide the broad range of services throughout the state that are sorely needed".

''As we move forward with healthcare reform, there are several ways in which behavioral health services can be provided. We have considered each of the alternatives, and, as a group, our four agencies have decided that a closely integrated network of community based and community managed service providers is not only the most efficient answer, but the answer that is best for the state of Rhode Island" Erickson continued.

Each of the four agencies has taken the legal action necessary to create the network, including the selection of a Board of Directors with representatives from each of the agencies. Christian L. Stephens, outgoing President of NRI Community Services, Inc., will serve as the first CEO of HHP. Stephens has a 37-year mental health career in Rhode Island and has an established reputation for interagency collaboration and new services development.

"We are very lucky to have Chris available as he steps away from his duties at NRICS." Judge Erickson noted. "With an established a reputation nationally for bringing services out of the office and into the home and community,  Chris will be a broker and intermediary with potential customers, bundling the services of member agencies in new and different ways."

Stephens added, "Many potential customers can now realize the capacity of our members. In additional  to providing core behavioral health services, members have grown from providing alternative schools to providing in school services all over Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut  and Massachusetts. Similarly, members have developed job training programs and hundreds of units of supported housing for diverse clients throughout the state."

Horizon  Healthcare Partners ("HHP") was originally formed out of a belief that Rhode Island health plans, most state agencies, and many Rhode Island businesses needed access to a community-based  mental health network of providers. Horizon Healthcare Partners' agencies were chosen for their diverse experience in creating alternatives to hospital or institutional care. The experiences of the various agencies involved led to a yearlong process of evaluation to determine how a new network would be formed and what values it would carry forward.

Stephens pointed out that the first year of operation is a critical period and needs focused leadership to ensure a smooth transition.  "I am truly impressed with the strategic and entrepreneurial thinking of the new Board. Virtually every Board member is a past Chair of their local mental health organization Board." In addition to Judge Erickson from Newport County Community Mental Health Center, the Vice Chair is Mark Delaney representing The
Kent Center. Michael G. Tauber, the Secretary, is representing Riverwood Mental Health Services, and Roland M. Boucher, Treasurer, is representing NRI Community Services, Inc.

Stephens and Erickson also expressed deep appreciation for the work Jane Arsenault of FIO Partners, LLC provided to help create the necessary bylaws and operating agreement changes needed to make the new HHP a reality. "Thanks to her work, we are now Rhode Island's largest community-based mental health network with 775 staff, over $50 million in annual revenues, and multiple locations statewide." Stephens and Erickson noted.

Stephens closed by noting, "Virtually every day there is an interesting call that highlights an access problem. Ironically, potential customers and potential providers often have been unable to find the time and the method of packaging services differently. HHP gives our members a vehicle for designing and delivering solutions. I am honored and challenged to take up Horizon Healthcare Partners' passionate belief in community mental health. Our thanks to the RI Foundation for their start-up assistance."