MANATEE -- In order to be more competitive in an evolving mental health arena, Manatee Glens officials say they have signed a letter of intent to affiliate in early 2015 with one of the nation's largest nonprofit behavioral health care organizations.
The impending agreement between Manatee Glens, Manatee County's nonprofit behavior health provider for 60 years, and Nashville, Tenn.-based Centerstone, now operating in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, was announced Thursday by Manatee Glens President and CEO Mary Ruiz during a press conference at Manatee Glens Hospital & Addiction Center, 2020 26th Ave. E.
The letter of intent allows Centerstone and Manatee Glens to complete due diligence before finalizing an affiliation agreement, officials said.
The affiliation will be effective Jan. 1. Manatee Glens will change its name to Centerstone of Florida and its assets will be preserved as a local nonprofit organization with a local board of governance, Ruiz said.
Ruiz will become chief executive officer of Centerstone of Florida.
"This affiliation model is unique in that it maintains local governance of services while adding national resources and expertise," Ruiz said. "This is a best-of-both worlds opportunity to meet the demands of the new national health care environment while preserving our local mission, staff and services."
Ruiz said most Manatee Glens clients won't notice a change -- other than the name -- at first.
Over time, clients should notice enhanced services complemented by Centerstone's expertise, Ruiz said.
"This change prepares us for the next five to 50 years in a way that is exciting and pioneering," Ruiz said.
No Manatee Glens jobs are expected to be lost in the affiliation.
Manatee County clients can take advantage of Centerstone Research Institute and a division that treats military men and women, Ruiz said.
Centerstone serves more than 84,000 people at nearly 150 locations in four states, said CEO David Guth Jr., who attended the press conference.
"The (National Football League) is one of our clients," said Guth, who said he has known Ruiz 20 years. "We do face-to-face therapy for NFL players."
Guth also talked about Centerstone's goal to eliminate suicides in communities by educating the public.
"Even an extremely low suicide rate is not good enough," Guth said. "It was once said that the subject of suicide should not be brought up in a family or among friends. Now we know that is wrong."
Guth said Centerstone, which is also 60 years old, has affiliated with 16 smaller organizations.
Centerstone operates the Centerstone Foundation, Centerstone Research Institute, Advantage Behavioral Health, Centerstone Military Services and Centerstone Health Partners, Guth said.
Manatee Glens works with people who face trauma, addictions, psychiatric illnesses and emotional disorders, serving 16,000 clients each year, Ruiz said.
For about a year, Centerstone has courted Manatee Glens to expand its operations into Florida, Guth said.
"Centerstone and Manatee Glens share a commitment to strengthening community care, enhancing client services and advancing the practice of behavioral health care," Guth said. "Manatee Glens is well-respected as an innovator in inpatient and outpatient service delivery, and its team expands the depth of Centerstone's clinical services and expertise. We are excited to move this affiliation forward."
For more information about Centerstone, go to centerstone.org.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.