Community Elements To Merge With Northern Illinois Behavioral Health Agency

Community Elements CEO Shelia Ferguson discusses her agency's merger with Rockford-based Rosecrance.

Community Elements CEO Shelia Ferguson discusses her agency's merger with Rockford-based Rosecrance.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Champaign-based social service agency Community Elements plans to merge with a nationally-known provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment.  The agreement with Rockford-based Rosecrance is expected to be finalized by next July 1st.  Rosecrance serves patients in Rockford and Chicago areas, and in the Madison and Milwaukee areas in Wisconsin.

Both organizations say their decision to merge is not prompted by Illinois’ budget stalemate. Instead, they describe it as a chance for similar organizations to join together to expand behavioral health services. 

However, Community Elements CEO Shelia Ferguson does say it could be a while before state money again has a real impact on what both groups do.

“I’m talking about a year, two years - possibly even longer – before we see some changes that will affect the community-based services," he said.  "So coming together, looking at that proactively, and looking at how we can strategize around keeping our continuum of services has to do with building a sustainability plan.”

Rosecrance CEO Philip Eaton says the staffs of both agencies team up to look at the future of services, and how they can fill gaps in the service that Community Elements provides in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Eaton says ramping up sustance abuse treatment expects to be one of those.

"We have a heroin epidemic in our communities," he said.  "It seems that we're not responding to the severity, or the prevalance that it's being experienced in hospital emergency rooms.  We're seeing across our country.  We're seeing it in Chicago, and Rockford, throughout the Midwest.  And throughout Champaign County." 

Eaton says "a better organized continuum of treatment and recovery planning" is needed to respond to that problem.

No changes are expected in the Community Elements staff.  No decision has been made on whether the agency will change its name.

Story source: WILL