San Joaquin County Supervisors Approve Merger of Substance Abuse Services, Mental Health Department
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 to merge the Office of Substance Abuse with the Mental Health Services department, citing a consultant's report that found OSA "has no effective administrative structure," the Stockton Record reports. In a report made public last month, consultant Reynold Wong said that although the treatment OSA provides is still better than many programs in other counties in the state, the agency's management has suffered because it has promoted to middle-management positions a number of recovering-addict counselors who were only "marginally literate." In addition, a civil grand jury last year concluded that OSA was "plagued by poor management and training," according to the Record. OSA Chief Dana Bava said the management and training problems have been addressed since the grand jury issued its report.
The move reverses a 15-year-old decision to make OSA a stand-alone department, the Record reports. The board of supervisors directed OSA administrators to decide upon a new management structure for OSA under the umbrella of MHS. Administrators said the move will not affect rank-and-file employees or services. MHS director Bruce Hopperstad and interim Health Care Services Director Kenneth Cohen said the merger will allow the county to better treat those with mental illnesses and substance-abuse problems. However, supervisor Jack Sieglock said that the management structure should have been determined before the vote, and labor representatives said that the county should have consulted employees before making the decision. "It leaves a lot of room for panic," Michelle Blau, a representative for Service Employees International Union 790, said (Siders, Stockton Record, 6/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.