|LEXINGTON, KY (Sept.
9, 1998) -- The University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center and Charter Ridge
Behavioral Health System today announced the creation of one of the largest integrated
behavioral health delivery systems in Kentucky. The partnership will consolidate the
resources of three entities -- the UK College of Medicines department of psychiatry,
University of Kentucky Hospital and Charter Ridge into one organization known as
Behavioral Healthcare Alliance.
Verner Stillner, M.D., M.P.H., chair of UKs
department of psychiatry, said this is the first time in American psychiatry that a
proprietary system (Charter), a non-profit system (UK Hospital), and an academic
department of psychiatry have been brought together.
"This venture will benefit from the long established relationship between the UK
department of psychiatry and Charter Ridge," said Ali Elhaj, chief executive officer,
Charter Ridge Behavioral Health System and Behavioral Healthcare Alliance. "The
venture will create an efficient organization capable of providing consumers with the most
appropriate level of care."
The partnership developed out of a 16-year affiliation between the UK department of
psychiatry and Charter Ridge, an affiliate of Charter Behavioral Health System, a
for-profit corporation that provides both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health
services at facilities throughout the nation, including Lexington.
"The affiliation has been a model of clinical cooperation between two
traditionally competing factions," Stillner said. "We anticipate this new system
will be easier for patients to access quickly and enable them to have more specialized
With the advent of managed care, there is a need for a more consolidated, comprehensive
system of service delivery, Stillner said.
The new alliance will ensure patients are referred to the facility where they would
receive the most appropriate care. Patients throughout the Commonwealth can access the new
system 24 hours a day.
Behavioral Healthcare Alliance will administer a variety of services including
inpatient care, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs.
"Increasingly, mental health services are being delivered outside the
hospital," Stillner said. "The new venture is designed to provide a seamless
system of care between specialized hospital care and the more commonly-used outpatient
Charter Ridge Behavioral Health Systems will manage the alliance. The partnership will
benefit from Charters experience in providing behavioral health services and honed
systems of marketing, management, assessment, triage, and treatment.
"Charter Ridge Behavioral Health System, as an important part of the nations
largest and most successful behavioral health corporation, will bring to this partnership
the technical and systems support necessary to consistently monitor how care is being
accessed and utilized," Elhaj said. "We also will have the ability to develop
new services that have been field tested nationally and may serve as successful new models
in the attempt to adapt to changing health care consumer needs in Central and Eastern
Plans call for a dedicated inpatient sub-specialty unit at UK Hospital, specifically
for geriatric patients who need psychiatric and non-geriatric care.
"We believe that hospitalization of a geriatric patient for psychiatric care is
best accomplished in a medical-surgical hospital because of the need for diagnostic and
specialty services that cannot be provided in a psychiatric hospital," Stillner said.
The geropsychiatric inpatient program will be able to draw on the resources of the
gerontology division of UKs department of internal medicine and UK Sanders-Brown
Center on Aging, nationally known for its research in geriatrics.
Patients with medical and psychiatric problems also could be managed in this
hospital-based unit. For example, a geriatric patient may be admitted to the hospital for
diabetes treatment and physicians could discover the patient is suffering from depression
Plans also include expanding satellite activities beyond Lexington, especially through
the use of telemedicine. For example, the inpatient geriatric program could be linked with
a nursing home through telemedicine. Child psychiatry also could be extended in Eastern
Consolidating and integrating services through this venture also will yield a system
better designed for the Medicaid population in Region V. A behavioral health managed care
plan for the region is expected to be operational this year.
"Behavioral Healthcare Alliance will provide us with more opportunities for
training UK mental health professionals," Stillner said . "They will gain
experience in a behavioral health system geared to delivery of care in a managed care