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Rosecrance merges with region's largest mental health services agency

September 8, 2011
by News release
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Rockford, Ill. – One of Illinois’ largest addiction treatment providers, Rosecrance Inc., has acquired Janet Wattles Center, a community mental health services agency, in a formal merger that was effective on Sept. 1, 2011.

The innovative merger makes Rosecrance the state’s most comprehensive network of behavioral health services, delivering treatment for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.

Rosecrance President/CEO Philip W. Eaton announced the merger Thursday, Sept. 1, at an event at the Janet Wattles Center building in downtown Rockford. At the same time, the building was renamed the “Rosecrance Ware Center” to honor the agency’s longtime director, Frank Ware, who died unexpectedly in February.

“Frank dedicated his entire career to improving the lives of people with serious mental illness,” Eaton said. “Our intent is not only to continue that mission but to grow it.”

The two organizations began combining operations on Jan. 1, 2011, under a formal “affiliation.” Although Rosecrance became the parent company at that point, each entity retained separate corporate status. Now, the former Wattles organization is part of Rosecrance.

“The goal is the same now as it was under the affiliation,” Eaton said, “and that is to be at the forefront of integrating services in order to improve care for individuals who need treatment for addiction, mental illness or both conditions.”

Eaton noted that Ware had been the “conscience of the community” for 22 years in regard to providing respectful care for people with mental illness.

“They are too often stigmatized and pushed to the margins,” Eaton said. “When others didn’t want to see them, Frank looked them in the eye, sat down beside them and listened to what they needed.”

Since the affiliation went into effect in January, the two organizations have made strides in merging administrative operations, integrating programs and creating new services to treat people with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Rosecrance now has a staff of 560 and a $58 million annual budget to serve more than 13,000 patients and consumers annually.

The event at the Rosecrance Ware Center featured several speakers who gave tributes to Frank Ware. All spoke of his passion for improving access to treatment and reducing stigma for people with mental illness.

Ware died on Feb. 13, 2011, 22 years to the day from when he took over leadership of Janet Wattles Center. Ware was recognized nationally for his expertise in the field of behavioral health. On a state level, he was a leading voice in advocating for adequate funding for mental health services.


In 2010, he received the Gold Bell Award for Mental Health Person of the Year from the Mental Health Association of Illinois and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

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