SMA acquires Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Health

Chet Bell, CEO at SMA Behavioral Health Services, reported to Historic City News that all former employees of Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Health in St Augustine were notified on Friday that they will become Stewart-Marchman-Act employees as of Wednesday, February 1st.

Approximately 60 Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Healthcare employees are affected.

According to a statement received by Historic City News from Bell, on January 20th, the Boards of the two non-profit organizations signed off on an agreement that will allow SMA Behavioral Health Services, Inc., based in Daytona Beach, to “assume the assets and operations of Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Health”.

In the continuing drama of the local mental health “hot potato”, Historic City News has reported in recent months when St Johns County laid off mental health workers employed by the Health and Human Services department in favor of a purportedly lower-cost, private contract from Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Healthcare.

A few weeks ago, the State of Florida announced the cancelation of the county’s contract with Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Healthcare — allegedly because of unpaid debts the Department of Children and Families says the company owes the state.

As part of the assumption, Florida Department of Children and Families will amend an existing contract with SMA Behavioral Health Services, Inc., adding to it the Putnam and St Johns services formerly provided by Putnam-St Johns Behavioral Healthcare from its two locations at 330 Kay Larkin Drive in Palatka and 1955 US-1 South in St. Augustine.

The St Augustine location provides outpatient adult and children’s mental health services and outpatient adult and children’s substance abuse services. This location has a current caseload of approximately 1200 clients.

The Palatka location provides outpatient adult and children’s mental health services and outpatient adult and children’s substance abuse services. This location also includes an 8-bed detox unit and 6-bed adult residential substance abuse program. This location has a current open caseload of approximately 1600 clients.

Using a phrase that was heard during the last turnover, Bell told reporters that the focus of both agency boards in fashioning this agreement is to “ensure that clients receive uninterrupted care”.

SMA Behavioral Health Services has provided substance abuse and mental health services in Volusia and Flagler County for more than 50 years. Currently the agency employs 575 staff with an annual budget of $38 million.

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