There’s been a lot of joy and mutual congratulations around the plan by Guilford County, Cone Health and Sandhills Center to reshape the nature of mental health care in Guilford County and have Cone take over the job.
But not everyone is thrilled with the new plan: Namely, Monarch Behavioral Health Services, which through Sandhills Center currently provides the county’s mental health service, wasn’t thrilled with the news since they will not be doing so anymore once Cone takes over.
Other employees in related services under the current system are also wondering what their future holds. Currently, there are about 60 people working for Monarch supplying the mental health needs for Guilford County.
There are about 130 employees of Sandhills Center in Guilford County. Sandhills is the management entity with a home office in West End and it will continue to provide administrative oversight of those services, but Monarch will no longer provide them.
One source in Guilford County government said there was no indication Monarch had caught wind of the change before the evening of Friday, Dec. 14 when the county informed Monarch of the coming change.
“They were surprised,” that county official said.
This week several people behind the big change have stated that the move is in no way a reflection on the work of Monarch, which, they say, is doing the best job it can in a difficult situation in an overall mental health care environment that isn’t remotely structured for optimal case outcomes.
Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips said that Cone will be hiring employees to staff the new operation and he added that Cone could very well end up hiring some Monarch employees to provide those services. Phillips also pointed out that it will be about two years before the two new buildings are constructed and the new paradigm is operational. Until then, Sandhills will continue to contract with Monarch.
Monarch, which was established in 1958 under a different name, provides mental health care and other services across the state for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse issues. A decade ago, Monarch was serving about 3,000 people in North Carolina; today it serves roughly 30,000. The agency began playing a major role in services for Guilford County in 2012 after the State of North Carolina implemented major changes in the way mental health care is administered across the state.