July 20, 2018
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Brunswick mental health care provider to close, costing 170 jobs

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
Updated:

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Citing the loss of MaineCare coverage, Merrymeeting Behavioral Health Associates notified Brunswick officials on Monday that it will close its Pleasant Street facilities on April 22, putting approximately 170 people out of work.

The organization provides outpatient case management, therapy and support services to adults and children.

In a letter to Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Brayman and officials at the Bureau of Employment Standards and Department of Labor, human resources director Kacie Parker wrote that the decision to close was prompted by a March 22 letter from the state notifying MBH that beginning April 8, MaineCare would no longer cover more than 80 percent of the community-based services the organization provides.

Clinical employees will be terminated on April 8, according to the letter.

Parker wrote that short notice from the state prevented Merrymeeting from providing the 60 days’ notice required when employees are laid off.

A spokesman for the Maine Department of Labor did not immediately return a phone call on Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sheldon Wheeler, director of substance abuse and mental health services for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement, “Merrymeeting Behavioral Services is triggering alarm prior to gathering all of the facts or seeking help from the department. They are inflaming the situation by reaching out to the media before contacting the department about their concerns and how they feel these changes could disrupt the services they provide. Instead the department learned of their intent to close only after they had given notices to approximately 200 workers who service approximately 400 active consumers.”

“It is important to note, like other providers, Merrymeeting has contractual and regulatory obligations in closing the agency — this includes allowing the department to work with them to develop a plan to help ensure the transition of active consumers to appropriate levels of care in other agencies,” the statement continued.

Merrymeeting Behavioral Health is the second midcoast Maine provider of services to DHHS clients in the past week to announce that it’s closing. Last week, Coastal Trans, which for 33 years provided rides to disabled individuals and others, announced that it would cease operations.

The Getchell Agency Inc., a Bangor-based social services provider, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, citing changes in the state’s reimbursement practices.

 


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