BY CHRIS PFITZER, DHHS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
Dave Richard, director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS), spent much of July and August on the road, attending local Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (CFAC) meetings across the state.
CFACs are required by state law to advise Local Management Entity boards on the planning and management of the local public mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services system. Members include family members and adult consumers of services.
“I wanted to hear what they had to say,” said Richard, who came to DHHS in late May. “Attending these meetings gave me a chance to introduce myself, listen to their concerns, and ask for input on solutions that would improve the way the state provides care.”
Local CFACs in each of the state’s 10 LME/MCOs welcomed Richard for often lively discussions. He answered questions and ensured that everyone had an opportunity to have their voice heard.
“Our CFAC was honored that he is taking the time to hear from groups across the state that have been struggling to find their identity and worth,” said Sandra Buckman, CFAC Chair for East Carolina Behavioral Health. “We also appreciated his candor and open door policy in fielding questions.”
Richard acknowledged that there is work to be done in some areas. He championed the Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina and asked those in attendance to share ideas with him.
“All of my experiences listening and learning will help inform the process of improving a system that works to create better outcomes for people while also stopping the ever expanding costs of providing care to our citizens,” Richard added.
“We look forward to the options that will be offered beyond the present system,” added Buckman. “Hopefully these meetings will be the beginning of effective dialogue that will help heal and end much of the confusion arising out of a system transformed too many times without ever having reached the finish line.”