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October 2017 RHA Health Services Public Newsletter


October 2017 






Gordon Simmons Retires  


Gordon J. Simmons, Chief Executive Officer of RHA Health Services and Pace Health Companies, has decided to retire at the end of October 2017 after twenty years of service and leadership.  RHA Health Services provides a broad array of person-centered, integrated, and high quality supports and services focused on children and adults living with behavioral health and substance use challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities.


In 1997, Mr. Simmons joined RHA Health Services, Inc., in Asheville, NC, as President and CEO.  He worked with the management team to build upon the existing organization and to identify and execute strategic initiatives.  He instilled in the team the goals of following the principles of quality resident and client care, producing solid financial performance, and generating growth of the business.  During his tenure, RHA Health Services' annual revenue has increased tremendously with services now provided in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.  RHA employs over 5,000 staff and operates over 400 locations. 


"I am very proud to have had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of RHA Health Services where commitment to excellence is embedded in the very nature and culture of the company.   I look forward to watching RHA's continued growth and expansion as we deliver quality care to our communities" says Mr. Simmons.    


RHA Health Services is extremely grateful for Gordon's leadership and years of service to the company. He is highly respected and loved by the entire RHA family and has been an inspiration to both employees and to the people we serve.  He and his wife Kathleen look forward to spending a lot of time at their beach home on the Jersey Coast.  We wish them much happiness as they enjoy time with their four children and six grandchildren.   


"An RHA without Gordon Simmons...that is really hard to even think about.   I am so fortunate to have had a job I love and a mentor the caliber of Gordon. His unwavering focus on quality is woven throughout our organization- it is the very fabric of who we are. Incredibly high standards, truthfulness, kindness, and compassion have made him a leader among leaders. Gordon will of course be missed by the RHA family, but also by an industry where he has been an advocate for the people we support. I wish him the best that retirement can offer. May he always have a big fish on the line and a grandchild on his knee!" -Jeanne Duncan, President RHA Health Services 

 Read More 


"We hope to continue to build on his legacy."

- Nick Sulaiman,  Chief Financial Officer, RHA Health Services




News from Mary Benson House   

Submitted by Amy Borskey Duffer, MA, LCAS, BC-DMT   


The Mary Benson House in Asheville, NC is a grant-funded program offering residential, gender-specific substance abuse treatment to pregnant and parenting women.  Our program is unique in that our residents complete treatment while continuing to be the primary caregivers of their children, offering mothers and children the opportunity to establish, repair and maintain healthy attachment patterns.  We are able to serve seven women at a time and our residents participate in the program for up to one year.

We have recently celebrated the graduation of three residents with an additional five residents that we expect to graduate in the upcoming year. All of our recent graduates were able to move out of Mary Benson House and into private residences and were able to get reliable vehicles from Working Wheels as well.

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Changing Futures

Submitted by Salihah Jenkins

Memphis, TN


Danielle B. just began her junior year of college at the University of Memphis and she's made the Dean's List every semester since her freshman year. She is a very talented graphic arts major, has been recognized by faculty and peers, and her work is showcased in brochures for the art department at the university.    


How is this different from many young college students? Danielle is on the autism spectrum.  Twenty years ago she and her identical twin were born.  Her mom knew early on that something wasn't quite right and the autism diagnosis soon followed.  Mom started early intervention for the twins and they were both main streamed in classes at school with typically developing kids.  

 Read More about Danielle 



Lorraine and her client Krystyna



Employment Services Spotlight    


"I call my clients my children... I guess I can, as I am 70 and driven by seeing the potential in each of them."


Submitted by Lorraine McGuire, Employment Specialist

Raleigh, NC    


At the interview Krystyna was hired!  Her first day of work provided exposure to Alzheimer's clients, which she enjoyed.  She asked me if I was surprised, which I was, in a way, as she had been quite shy.  After the third day of training, she said, 'Ms. Lorraine, you changed my life".  I said "No, I didn't, I just gave you direction".  She said she was going to make me proud, and that, she did!  The fourth day she sent me a text saying "My new goal is to be employee of the month".  Every time I did a site-visit, she and her supervisor, Ivan, reminded me she was going to be Employee of the Month.  Ivan would say "she is awesome" and asked if I had more like her.  Well, the day came and YES, Krystyna had done it in just two months... Employee of the Month!


This is what RHA strives for... to give people hope and a chance at a great future.  Yes, Krystyna and her supervisor would say I am the best, and give me hugs, but that is not why we do what we do.  Anyone can have a resume and credentials but you must have the heart, and the people must feel you're caring for them.  I call my clients my "children"... I guess I can, as I am 70 and driven by seeing the potential in each of them.  It is very rewarding to see the hope they have in a new future.  She is one of my many children, all colors, backgrounds, shapes, sizes and with various physical or mental disabilities.  We concentrate on "abilities" not disabilities.

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Isaiah and his Food Lion Supervisor

Isaiah Graduates from Project Search

and Gets a Job!


Submitted by Cynthia Stevens,

Director Greenville Group Homes

Greenville, NC 


Isaiah Houston came to the RHA Greenville Group Homes program in March 2010. He attended high school at J. H. Rose High School and graduated in May 2016. During his junior year, Isaiah interviewed for and was selected, among a group of his peers throughout Pitt County, to participate in an internship program through the Project SEARCH High School Transition Program.


Following graduation from Project Search, Isaiah participated in the RHA Employment Services Program in conjunction with Vocational Rehabilitation. Given his determination and drive as well as  working day-to-day with his job coach, he obtained employment at a local Food Lion. He was hired  as a Quality Assurance Specialist in July 2016 and was recently rewarded for his one year anniversary as an employee.

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We are pleased to announce the addition of "CK" Chaitanya Kancharana as our new Director of IT Infrastructure.




We are pleased to announce the promotion of Angie Pascoli as our new Director of Business Process Management.   


E  V  E  N  T  S 

C  A  L  E  N  D  A R


Registration is open for the NADD Annual Conference 




This & That 


Milledgeville Community Access garden feeds the Harrisburg Community  




Mind and BodyPassageways PSR members learn how gems and crystals can be a healing source for stress and anxiety. 



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Creative Director
Debbie Valentine

Special Thanks to
Richelle Mitchell

Contributing Writers
Amy Borskey Duffer
Elizabeth Kimball
Blair Hedgecock
Cynthia Stevens
Lillian M. Veal
Carlo Black
Melissa Cynthia Long
Lorraine McQuire



Vaya awards 2.3 million grant  

to fund CCM Pilot Program 


Submitted by Cindy Long, MS CCM Program Manager 


Vaya Health was awarded a 2.3 million dollar grant to fund the Comprehensive Case Management (CCM) pilot program in conjunction with Mission Health and RHA Health Services.   The initiative will provide CCM for people with high utilization of Mission's Buncombe emergency department (ED) for behavioral health and substance use needs, as well as women who are pregnant and using drugs or alcohol.   


The CCM program began July 2nd 2017 and is grant funded for 1 year, with the expectation the program will be funded and extended for multiple years to come. Goals of the CCM program include piloting the CCM Service Definition, reducing utilization of and boarding time in Emergency Departments (ED), and increasing collaboration between hospital and community partners, to more effectively meet the needs of this population.   




The Recovery Education Center's  

Creative Arts Group   

RHA Behavioral Health High Point   


Submitted by Blair Hedgecock, MPH, Director  

RHA Behavioral Health, High Point, NC 


  Through promoting an environment of education, support, recovery, community and structure, the Recovery Education Center (REC) groups have been dedicated to assisting participants with their recovery and wellness needs. Each week, the REC groups are focused on a different key concept of recovery and wellness. The REC's Creative Arts Group has created some wonderful artwork this quarter as a result.  


Participants in the Creative Arts Group created these pieces to express the emotions and thoughts they experienced before and after beginning their recovery and wellness journeys.

In "Before," the dark colors with mixes of paint and swirl designs represent the overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, entrapment, suffocation, confusion, and general chaos that participants associate with their lives and minds before they began their recovery and wellness journeys.  

In "After," bright colors with splashes of glitter and paint represent the feelings of excitement, happiness, motivation, peace, accomplishment, pride, comfort, and even the occasional bouts of doubt and confusion, that participants associate with their lives and minds after they began their recovery and wellness journeys.  

 Read More about this program  



RHA Rolls Out Employment and Community First (ECF) Waiver in TN


Submitted by Elizabeth Kimball, Statewide ECF Coordinator


The Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver also known as the Statewide Waiver under the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities closed effective June 30, 2016.  The new waiver, Employment and Community First (ECF) began July 1, 2017 and is managed by three MCO's: BlueCare, Amerigroup, and United. RHA was chosen to be one of 24 providers across the state to implement this program.  Currently, there are well over 300 provider agencies in TN.  


RHA East TN has been very privileged to be included in the ECF roll out. The people who are being supported in this program were on the waiting list for DIDD waiver services and/or aging out of the school program. RHA provides ACRE trained staff to assist with this process. ECF is very person centered and each service plan is specifically designed to meet that member's needs.  Each east TN unit has experienced good outcomes along with a few challenges!  

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