After more than a year of negotiation, the merger of Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) and Lee Mental Health has been announced. These two organizations now form the largest mental health and substance abuse treatment agency in Southwest Florida.
The merger combines the resources of the two non-profit agencies, under the new name of “SalusCare, Inc.,” drawing on the Latin roots of “Salus,” (pronounced “Sail-us”) meaning health, prosperity and safety, which reflects the focus of the new organization.
SalusCare, Inc., will be led by CEO Kevin B. Lewis with Lee Mental Health Center President & CEO David Winters serving as Chief Administrative Officer.
“The SalusCare Board is enthused about the future of this new not-for-profit organization that we believe will give our community what it needs most – a cohesive system of behavioral healthcare to address the needs of individuals with mental health and substance use issues,” said Marshall Bower, President & CEO of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. and chairman of the Board of Directors. “Our first year plan is to implement electronic medical records to enable us to share information across campuses. When we do that, we can increase access points for care and serve more people in need of treatment.”
“The aim is improved care for patients with a seamless system of behavioral health care and better access to care from multiple locations in Lee County,” Lewis said. “The Boards of both companies see this as a key step to improve current services, and move toward a model of integrated care with other health providers in our community.”
According to a press release, there will be no disruption of services. While there may be some cost savings in the consolidation, Lewis and Winters said that is not the major reason for the merger and any potential savings will be invested in increased care. No layoffs or closing of offices are anticipated.
Together, Lee Mental Health Center and SWFAS operate with annual budgets of just under $30 million and 450 employees serving 17,000 patients per year from eight locations in Lee and Hendry counties. The majority of programs offered by both companies are accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.