CBH, Coastal Care Merger Official

By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance Wednesday, March 25, 2015

East Carolina Behavioral Health will get a new name when its merger with another regional mental health service becomes effective on July 1.

After months of talks, ECBH and Wilmington-based Coastal Care signed a formal agreement in New Bern this week to form one agency representing 24 eastern North Carolina counties.

The combined agency will operate as Trillium Health Resources.

Customers will notice little change, except when the agency issues Medicaid cards with the new name, said ECBH communications director Georgia Claxton.

The new agency will continue offering services through the same providers, she said.

“We wanted this to be the least disruptive as possible for the people receiving services,” said Claxton.

The mental health agency operates like Blue Cross Blue Shield in deciding the services customers are eligible to receive. Customers rarely deal directly with the agency but find out through service providers what services are covered through federal, state and private resources.

With the merger, the Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization in eastern North Carolina will have contracts with nearly 650 providers and serve about 1.25 million people, including 165,000 eligible for


“The combined budget and number of staff of the new organization will allow for specialization of team members and focus on particular initiatives, resulting in a more efficient system,” a news release reads.

Trillium will manage mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disability services from three regional offices. An office based in Ahoskie will represent counties to the north, including Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Chowan.

The three offices will be manned by 430-plus employees, including those from ECBH and Coastal Care who elected to stay with the newly merged agency. Claxton said some job duties may change but existing staff were offered positions in the new agency.

Leza Wainwright, chief executive officer for ECBH, will become Trillium’s new CEO. Her salary of $158,556 will remain the same. Foster Norman, CEO for CoastalCare is retiring.

Details about who will make up the new agency’s governing board are still undecided.

Counties must still sign off on a proposal to create three regional advisory boards with representatives from each county, patients and service providers. Under the proposal, appointees from those advisory boards would serve on the Trillium Governing Area Board of Directors. The set-up would allow each county input while holding the governing board to a reasonable size, Claxton said.

Leaders for Greenville-based ECBH serving 19 counties and Wilmington-based Coastal Care serving five signed a letter of intent in September 2014 to consolidate. Both will operate under their existing names until the July 1 switchover.

“This combined entity will be a leader in managing services and supports for substance use, mental health and

intellectual/developmental disabilities in North Carolina with competence, confidence and fiscal health. The integrated group will continue to focus on the needs of recipients, and increasing access, quality of care and continuity of services,” states the new release.

Trillium, the agency’s new name comes from a wildflower, representing peace and tranquility from the woodlands where it is found and healing from its use by Native Americans for medicinal purposes.