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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 9 years ago

Health care merger

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Two mental health and substance abuse centers in Lee County discuss a merger.

FORT MYERS — Lee Mental Health Center and Southwest Florida Addiction Services are discussing a possible merger that could become reality at the beginning of next year, officials say.

The two not-for-profit organizations have hired North Carolina-based Ascendient Health Advisors to assist in the negotiations. Both organizations already work closely and share a chief financial officer and chief information officer.

Lee Mental Health Center is the larger of the two non-profits with a budget of $20 million and 300 employees serving 12,000 patients annually from two locations in Lee County. Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) operates with a $9.5 million budget and 150 employees serving 5,000 patients per year from five locations in Lee County and two in Hendry County.

The organizations say cost savings of a merger will be minimal. Executives say there will be no layoffs or office closings, though a new management structure is being negotiated.

“This is all about improved care for patients with one seamless system of behavioral health care and better access to care from multiple locations in Lee County,” say Lee Mental Health Chair Marshall Bower and SWFAS Board Treasurer Geoffrey Roepstorff, in a joint statement “In this environment of stretched health care resources, it makes sense for us to look at an integrated system of care.”

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