Saturday, August 18, 2012
Mental Health Board Reels At Top Three Boss Loss
Late Thursday the Mental Health Board notified client agencies that Executive Director Sandy Lewis had resigned, effective Nov. 12 to take a position at Commonwealth University in Virginia and that Deputy Director, Robert Lesser, and Clinical Director, Liz Doyle, had both decided to retire, Lesser in two weeks, Doyle Nov. 30.
The MHB's sudden self-decapitation follows the still largely-unexplained collapse in late May of its largest service provider, Family Service in McHenry, after a failed merger with a LaSalle County agency. Officials said it was all coincidental, though. "You're looking for cause and effect that isn't there," said Lewis.
"There was a lot of crying (at Thursday's closed Special Mental Health Board meeting)," reported County Board liason Member Mary Donner. "Sandy got a job she was invited to apply for and didn't expect to get. Bob was planning a retirement and Liz was getting ready to retire, too."
"They didn't know I was leaving and each didn't know the other was retiring, either," said Lewis.
"We're losing a lot of experience and knowledge all at once," said MHB President Lee Ellis. He also heads the County Mental Health Task Force looking into the Family Service collapse. The good news there, he reported, is that the defunct agency's 6,000 yearly clients have now been reassigned to other providers. Whether they'll go to them is still an open question, though, he said. "We were able to keep the psychiatrists," said Ellis.
Complicating MHB's problems, however Ellis said the $11 million per year Board is up against its tax rate limit. "We're not going to have as much money as last year," said Ellis. "We're going to be short." Ellis said the Board plans to use Doyle's departure to tighten its administrative structure by eliminating her position.