By Chris Pfitzer
On Thursday, October 24, 2013, representatives from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services met with the CEO and leaders at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton to have a frank discussion about the mental illness and substance abuse challenges facing North Carolina hospitals.
Dr. Robin Cummings, Deputy Secretary for Health Services and Acting State Health Director, led the DHHS delegation and was joined by Dave Richard, Director of the DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services along with Alan Dellapenna, Jr., the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch Head within the DHHS Division of Public Health.
“We learned a lot about the real world problems facing hospitals and emergency departments,” said Dr. Cummings. “This was a very informative trip and these local experts were able to articulate several potential solutions that we would like to explore further. ”
CEO Joanne Anderson and her team of psychiatrists, behavioral health experts and emergency services physicians outlined some of the challenges faced at the Southeastern Regional Medical Center. They also shared ideas for improving the system based upon their experiences in this community.
“The state has been aware of the issues with the mental health delivery system for some time and improving it is a priority for this Secretary and this Administration,” said Dave Richard, director of the DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. “This trip was very beneficial because it provided us with an honest assessment of the challenges and difficulties associated with treating individuals in mental health crisis along with some potential solutions.
Leaders from DHHS have been conducting informal sessions such as this one to gather information that will inform improvements to mental health systems across the state.