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As industry changes, so does Community Services GroupMental health services company in 19 counties

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Susan Blue is president and CEO of Community Services Group.
Susan Blue is president and CEO of Community Services Group. - (Photo / )

Community Services Group was established in 1972, a time when mental health services across the U.S. were moving away from institutionalized care to county-organized programs.

More than 40 years later, the landscape of mental health services is continuing to change, and so is Community Services Group.

The company provides treatment in a range of venues and formats for people with intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. Its revenue — which mostly comes from county and state funding, as well as managed care contracts from the federal government — goes right back into the services it provides.

Indeed, the company doesn’t measure its growth by revenue but by its ability to expand services into new counties.

Today CSG operates six outpatient facilities and about 150 residential programs for intellectually impaired people in 19 counties in Pennsylvania.

The outpatient facilities see patients with intellectual development disorders as well as a full range of behavioral illnesses. Patients can receive outpatient treatment or undergo partial hospitalization, as well as get help with education and employment services, such as job coaching.

Residential programs typically take place in homes with between two and five residents. CSG adds around two or three new homes per year, according to Rejean Carlson, CFO at CSG.

The organization also just hired a new psychiatrist in July of this year, overcoming one of the biggest challenges it faces — finding qualified psychiatrists.

The challenge lies in the fact that there are not enough professionals to cover the rural areas that need to be served, and reimbursement rates for mental health providers do not provide the most competitive wage, said Susan Blue, president and CEO of Community Services Group. She has been its owner since 1988.

CSG, like other providers, has found partnerships are an effective way to expand service.

CSG is part of three initiatives funded by the United Way of Lancaster County, which recently changed the way it distributes grants. Instead of giving money to individual organizations, the United Way gives money to collaborative efforts that involve multiple organizations.

The first grant-supported group is addressing barriers that people face in trying to find housing. The second initiative is expanding behavioral health services at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services, a primary care provider downtown that accepts patients regardless of their ability to pay. The third is a group called Let’s Talk Lancaster.

As part of Let’s Talk Lancaster, CSG is providing training across the county on mental health so people know what to do when they encounter someone who is struggling. The goal is to address the stigma often attached to mental illness, Blue said.

The group also helps connect people to health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

“The real goal is to increase mental health wellbeing in the county, and making sure that the community is a good place for everyone,” Blue said.

The company also is eying partnerships in the wake of recent health mergers, Blue said. York-based WellSpan Health System and Lebanon-based Philhaven are now affiliated, and Lancaster General Health joined Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine.

LG Health/Penn Medicine recently announced that it is building a 126-bed psychiatric hospital in Lancaster City in partnership with Montgomery County-based Universal Health Services.

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Lenay Ruhl

Lenay Ruhl

Lenay Ruhl covers Lancaster County, health care and agribusiness. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at lenayr@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @lenay_ruhl.

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