Two community mental health centers in Colorado will merge in July to create the state’s largest behavioral health center.
WellPower, which provides mental health services and homeless assistance in Denver, will merge with the Jefferson Center, a safety net mental health organization serving Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.
Together, the companies have approximately 2,000 employees and serve approximately 48,000 people annually. These centers include mobile medication-assisted treatment for opioid addicts, walk-in crisis centers, and outreach programs that deploy mental health professionals along with his RTD personnel, law enforcement, and park rangers.
Chiara Kuenzler, CEO of the Jefferson Center, said the combined centers will be able to offer a longer list of addiction and mental health programs. The partnership allows each center to combine technical processes and other costs to fill gaps in specialized care.
She called the merger a “bold response” to Colorado’s behavioral health crisis, where suicide is the leading cause of death among young people and deaths from fentanyl are skyrocketing. “We believe that by combining the strengths of our two organizations, we will be able to serve the needs of our communities in ways never before seen in Colorado,” she said in an email Thursday announcing the merger. Stated. “By coming together, we can respond to the needs of our communities more quickly and effectively than we could alone.”
The merger now makes sense because of recent changes in Colorado’s behavioral health system, including a restructuring of how community mental health centers are regulated and funded. The state’s 17 community mental health centers fear losing funding as Colorado overhauls its system and faces competition from private behavioral health organizations. These centers have long operated under no-bid contracts with state Medicaid departments, but have come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
“We have to adapt to the future,” said Dr. Carl Clark, CEO of WellPower, formerly a mental health center in Denver. “We believe that joining two organizations would be a strong solution for him.”
The Jefferson Center will serve more than 26,000 people in 2022 and has a budget of approximately $90 million. WellPower, which served about 22,000 people, had a budget of about $144 million.
Mr. Kuenzler will become president of the new organization, and Mr. Clark will serve as CEO until his retirement. The joint organization will operate under the name WellPower.
Vincent Atchiti, president of the advocacy group Mental Health Colorado, said the merger of two “major companies” will not only increase access to housing services and other supports, but also provide access to “technology that is essential to people’s well-being.” He said that he hopes that this will lead to improved access. Improve responses to crises while reducing harm, criminalization, and over-reliance on law enforcement and prisons. ”