By Ariella Monti
This story originally appeared in Raleigh Public Record
Wake County Commissioners Monday approved a partnership with UNC Health Care to begin managing care at the WakeBrook Recovery Center.
The county found itself in the middle of a conflict of interest that stemmed from the creation of the county’s new local management entity, Alliance Behavioral Health Care. According to state and federal Medicaid laws, the county cannot simultaneously be a provider and a funder of this type of health care.
Because Alliance will be providing funding for WakeBrook, the county has partnered with UNC Health Care to provide services to patients.
As Commissioner Erv Portman rephrased it, the county’s role is shifting from provider to landlord.
The county will continue to own the recovery center and enter into a lease agreement with UNC Heath Care.
Commissioners approved a letter of intent to go forward with the partnership, but county and UNC Health Care staff still need to finalize budgets, service plans and funding agreements.
The partnership will help WakeBrook use all 48 beds in the facility. Today, 16 go unused; the remaining are for non-hospital substance abuse rehabilitation.
By turning 16 of its substance abuse rehab beds into inpatient psychiatric beds, hospital emergency rooms will be able to discharge people in crisis from the hospital directly to WakeBrook. The empty beds will be used for facility-based crisis, enabling patients to stay longer than 24 hours.
Officials hope adding more beds at WakeBrook will alleviate some of the pressure experienced by local hospitals overloaded with mentally ill patients.
Commissioners also approved a funding agreement between Alliance and Holly Hill Hospital to continue providing in-patient care to those with mental illness or disabilities.