Tennessee Community Mental Health Centers In Spotlight At Senate Hearing

Thursday, January 24, 2013

At a hearing Thursday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the chief executive officer of Centerstone in Tennessee testified that an initiative Ranking Member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) launched in Tennessee as governor 30 years ago was an example of how education and mental health systems can work together “for the sole purpose of addressing our health care crisis.”  

The hearing on mental health was the first for which Senator Alexander served as ranking member. He asked the witnesses, “Are we [the federal government] putting up any roadblocks that make it harder to provide services?” and requested “specific suggestions on laws, regulations, and practices that we ought to change.”

Dr. Robert Vero, the chief executive officer of Tennessee’s Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest operators of not-for-profit community mental health centers, said, “When you were governor of Tennessee, we built out a statewide therapeutic preschool program. We had therapeutic preschools in every one of the community mental health centers across all 95 counties. Those schools were there to deal with the most vulnerable children with whom we were seeing early indications of the onset of severe mental illnesses.”

Dr. Vero said that very few of those programs exist today because the model is unaffordable. Dr. Vero asked that at the federal level, “let’s remove these barriers that oftentimes don’t allow us to bring our systems together—education, criminal justice, mental health—in a cooperative way for the sole purpose of addressing our health care crisis. We’ve spent too long arguing over which part of the day education should pay for versus which part of the day a managed care company or Medicaid should be paying for.”

Senator Alexander told Dr. Vero he would work on ways to encourage collaboration between the mental health care and education systems to support the care of children.

World AIDS Day Events Held Dec. 1 And 6

The Southeast TN Council for HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention, in partnership with the city of Chattanooga and The Hunter Museum of American Art, will host World AIDS Day 2015 events on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 6. These events will highlight the arc of the pandemic, how the southern United States is the epicenter of the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, the ... (click for more)

Free Metabolic Seminars Hosted By CHI Memorial Metabolic And Bariatric Care

Jack F. Rutledge, M.D. and CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care will host two free seminars in December on surgical weight loss options. The first seminar will be held at CHI Memorial Hospital in the community room Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. The second seminar will be at the North River Civic Center in Hixson on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. "Obesity can be devastating to ... (click for more)

Residents Concerned Over 7-Story Building On The Southside

Downtown Chattanooga residents expressed their concerns with the proposed seven-story apartment building on Cowart Street on the Southside at Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting. The apartment building, originally zoned at four stories before Belle Investment petitioned for seven, has not been adequately publicized, residents claimed.   Architect and planning professional ... (click for more)

Commissioner Graham Chides Chairman Bankston For Shredding Arts Cigarette Tax Letter; Says Sunshine Law Violated

County Commissioner Joe Graham on Wednesday chided Chairman Chester Bankston for shredding a letter related to the proposed cigarette tax to aid the arts. "Have you shredded any other county legal documents?" he demanded. Chairman Bankston replied, "No, I have not done that." He said the letter did not get the necessary six signatures to forward to the Legislature. ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Why I Am Thankful, 2015

I can’t really remember when I first started this – sometime in the 1970s – but my favorite column every year comes during Thanksgiving when I literally pause and use my fingers to thank God for all His richest blessings. The year 2015 has been bountiful so here are just a few of the things I will carry in my heart as I take my place at today’s table: I AM THANKFUL that tomorrow, ... (click for more)