The Clewiston News

Crossroads exiting Hendry as of March

A headline in the Thursday, Feb. 15, Caloosa Belle and The Clewiston News – “Crossroads exiting Hendry as of March” – erroneously implied that Crossroads Behavioral Health Center Inc. is leaving Hendry County as a service provider. The company only has canceled its contract to serve a limited number of clients whose services are paid for with state Department of Children and Families funding administered through the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network (CFBHN). Crossroads is, in fact, remaining in Hendry County to serve all of its current Medicaid, Medicare and third-party insurance patients.

This means that if current patients of Crossroads may keep it as their provider as long as they want. Also, for anyone in need of counseling or psychiatric services, the company is accepting new patients.

Independent Newsmedia Inc. regrets any inconveniences caused by the headline, which overly generalized about Crossroads terminating its contract with the CFBHN.

New providers will bring expanded mental health services, more capacity

CLEWISTON – Just a month after reporting to Hendry County commissioners that the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network (CFBH) believed its contract with provider Crossroads Behavioral Health Center was solid, CEO Linda McKinnon had to inform them Tuesday night, Feb. 13, that Crossroads is backing out.

“I think you remember last month we were thinking that this relationship and the contract were going to work, but we were notified last week by Crossroads of their intention to cancel the contract with CFBH effective March 9. We have moved very quickly to assure that we have services in this community,” she said, listing two providers of mental health services that they’re now working with.

“Tri-County Human Services … (has) been a provider in our network for a long time in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. We are also working with the Center for Progress and Excellence, which is a nonprofit subsidiary of Elite DNA, who currently have four locations where they’re providing services out in this community,” Ms. McKinnon reported. “Our intention is to contract with both agencies so that we will actually have more capacity in our communities and ensure that services are ongoing.”

Commissioner Karson Turner asked where their offices will be, and she said they’re using a county building on Pratt Boulevard in LaBelle right now. “The other four locations are the United Way in LaBelle, Hendry/Glades Regional Hospital, the Family Health Center in LaBelle and the Hope Health Center in Clewiston. So we anticipate that capacity is going to be increased out of this.”

Commissioner Michael Swindle asked if they were they currently occupying the space. Ms. McKinnon answered: “Not the health department; Tri-County would move into the county building, but the other locations are being occupied by Elite DNA.” He pressed: “And is that with qualified staff people, not TeleMeds?”

She responded, “They have clinicians there. They do have the capacity to do TeleMed if it’s necessary, but they have actual physically present clinicians and are working in with the health department and United Way.”

In answer to another query from Commissioner Darrell Harris, she went on to explain that having a certain volume of clients to keep the program going “has been an issue traditionally.” CFBH gets money under contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) “that can only be used for those who do not have insurance and are indigent. They are available for people of undocumented status.”

Ms. McKinnon explained CFBH hopes that “through having a really established provider (Tri-County) who has worked with DCF contracts as well as Medicaid and Medicare for many, many years that can bring in their administration as a back office, that will really help with a lot of issues that we have had with having small providers. The Center for Progress and Excellence … is a nonprofit side-by-side (of Elite DNA) that has been successful just working with the Medicaid and insured population, and so we believe that we now have two fiscally strong providers that will be able to provide services in this area.”

Commissioner Emma Byrd asked, “Will they work on a daily basis or as needed?”

She answered that they may be open three or four days a week instead of five, but that would depend on the volume of clients.

“One of the things that we are hoping and we’ve discussed with the county today is better integration with the jails, the schools, and other places that really do need services, and there are ways to pay for those services that haven’t been accessed.”

She said the new providers’ services would begin Monday, March 12.

Mr. Swindle said, “You said you had conversations with county staff today about expanding services into the jail and into the school system?”

“About the NEED for services,” Ms. McKinnon replied. “So you don’t have a plan to do that yet?” he asked. She answered, “No, we were notified six days ago so we’ve been moving very, very quickly, but what we want to try to do is better integrate and, with having more of a presence, be able to do that. That’s been an issue.”

“And we want you to have that as well,” he said. “And anything we need to do, to push, pull, prod, please let us know, because we want that. If undocumented status folks can have it but our school kids can’t, there’s a problem somewhere.”

Ms. McKinnon explained: “Well, and most of your school kids have Medicaid, so there is coverage. Again, it’s the outreach. We have to come up with some creative ways to be able to get to these children and families. We know with the rural atmosphere, transportation’s really difficult. The usual kind of clinic model doesn’t work. We found that out now twice. So we’re going to have to be creative with that.”