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Four mental and behavioral health care providers merge

Four regional nonprofits are merging to create the largest provider of behavioral health services in the greater Tampa Bay area.

The combined entity will use the name Gracepoint, a moniker that debuted in January with a counseling center in Wesley Chapel opened under the auspices of one of the four companies involved in the merger: Mental Health Care Inc., or MHC.

Joining MHC (which serves Hillsborough and Pasco counties) will be Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services (Pinellas County); Agency for Community Treatment Services Inc. (Hillsborough, Pasco and Broward counties); and Tri-County Human Services Inc. (Polk, Highland and Hardee counties).

"Changes in health care reward larger and stronger organizations. This merger allows Gracepoint to continue its specialty focus in behavioral health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities and reap those rewards," said MHC chief executive officer Joseph Rutherford, who is to become CEO of the combined company.

The union was triggered by a mandate from the Florida Department of Children and Families, which "made it clear" it wants to improve efficiencies by spending tax dollars on providers that can offer a broad spectrum of services, Rutherford said.

The expanded Gracepoint will have combined annual revenues of $83 million and nearly 1,400 employees, including 38 psychiatrists and four medical doctors. Other numbers of note: It will offer 87 treatment programs in 69 locations, with 166 crisis center beds and 65 detox beds.

It expects to serve about 20,000 adults and 14,000 children each year.

The four-in-one combination, leaders say, will improve services to depressed, psychotic or addicted children and adults seeking help.

"This will allow our employees, instead of being generalists, to specialize in the areas they want to specialize in," said Karen Mess Frashier, executive vice president of the Mental Health Care Foundation, which will morph into the Gracepoint Foundation.

The "merger of equals" is expected to be finalized in October.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@tampabay.com.

Four mental and behavioral health care providers merge 07/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:20pm]
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