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Addiction services at forefront of Indiana providers' affiliation

August 11, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Centerstone solidifying full-service model in behavioral healthcare

A little more than a year after achieving an historic merger of three community behavioral health organizations, the entity now known as Centerstone of America is expanding again, announcing last week that its Indiana operation is joining forces with the Richmond, Ind.-based Dunn Center. This move by no means constitutes mere growth for the sake of growth, explains Centerstone of Indiana’s CEO.

“With the range of specialty programs that we’re called upon to provide in this field, smaller providers just can’t do it,” says Centerstone’s Robert J. Williams, PhD. “Addictive disorders offer an excellent example of that. For instance, Indiana has become a major gambling state, and none of our legacy organizations have a program in this area; this is something that we’ve got to grow.”

Centerstone of Indiana, based in Columbus, and Dunn Center will integrate their operations and will officially do business under the Centerstone name as of Sept. 1. The combined organization will serve more than 24,000 individuals in central and southern Indiana with a wide range of substance use and mental health services.

This affiliation follows the even more ambitious partnership that occurred in May 2008 when Centerstone, then operating in Tennessee only, joined forces with Indiana’s Center for Behavioral Health and Quinco Behavioral Health Systems to form the nation’s largest community behavioral health organization. While that merger dwarfs other partnerships in the field, Williams sees what Centerstone has done as reflecting a widely held perspective in community behavioral health: He says two more pairs of behavioral health centers in Indiana have combined operations since the larger Centerstone was formed.

As is the case with any potential affiliations Centerstone might explore, partnering with Dunn Center offers synergies for two organizations with good reputations, similar missions and complementary services, Williams says. For example, Dunn Center brings a great deal of experience in evidence-based substance abuse treatment for adolescents, an area in which Centerstone was not well-versed, he says.

Now a $100 million-plus company in Indiana and Tennessee, Centerstone might eventually exceed the $200 million threshold as it contemplates partnerships in additional states. Williams sees this as a necessary step in enhancing the company’s negotiating strength with payers and in mitigating possible vulnerabilities from being overly dependent on any one state program or revenue source. And he believes other providers around the country soon might pursue partnerships of an equally large scale.

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