Mental health agencies might merge

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 27, 2017

The South Central Alabama Mental Health board on Thursday tabled a proposal to merge with two other mental health organizations.

Board president Michelle Perdue said the SCAMH board is considering a merger with both East Central Alabama Mental Health and Southwest Alabama Mental Health.

scamh-logoThe local organization, which is headquartered in Andalusia, serves clients in Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw and Butler counties.

East Central Alabama Mental Health serves Bullock, Macon and Pike counties, while Southwest Alabama Mental Health serves Conecuh, Clarke, Escambia and Monroe counties.

“We have not finalized anything,” Perdue said. “We had an open forum and a good discussion, but we tabled it today.

“We walked away with a lot of good information. If anything, the board will do due diligence, for sure.”

Perdue said the proposed merger has nothing to do with any weakness in South Central Alabama Mental Health.

“It’s very healthy,” she said of SCAMH. “No rash decision will be made. It was laid out there, but it was tabled.”

Perdue said the three agencies are run similarly, which would make a merger easier, if the three boards decided to move in that direction.

SCAMH has had an interim executive director since Diane Baugher left in October to become the state’s associate commissioner for mental health and substance abuse. Tommy Wright is the current interim executive director.

While the agency has advertised for a new director, Perdue said the board won’t hire a director until it is decided whether the organizations will merge.

In 2015, the Mobile-based AltaPointe Health Systems merged with the mental health agency in Baldwin County to provide services in Mobile, Baldwin and Washington counties. In 2016, that system merged with Cheaha Regional Mental Health, which provides services with Clay, Coosa, Randolph and Talladega counties.  That merger was approved by Mental Health Commissioner Jim Perdue, who is a former chairman of the South Central Alabama Mental Health Board.