CEO Joan Erney (l), COO Donna Bailey (r)

The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) today announced that Joan Erney will retire as chief executive officer of its Community Behavioral Health (CBH) division effective December 31, 2019.

Behavioral Health Commissioner David T. Jones said CBH’s chief operating officer, Donna Bailey, has been named interim CEO of CBH effective January 1, 2020. Commissioner Jones, who is CBH’s board chair, said the board of directors will conduct a search for a permanent CEO next year.

CBH administers the Medicaid behavioral health managed care program, HealthChoices, on behalf of the City of Philadelphia effectively managing the behavioral health care coverage of more than 700,000 Philadelphians. CBH’s vast network of nearly 200 publicly-funded addiction and mental health treatment provider agencies operates at 700 sites across the city. Erney has led CBH since 2013.

“We thank Joan tremendously for her personal commitment and dedication to leading CBH’s growth and success,” Commissioner Jones said. “Joan’s tireless efforts and leadership have resulted in CBH’s many notable accomplishments and will have a lasting impact on CBH’s continued operation as a health plan within our Department recognized for putting Philadelphians with behavioral health challenges at the center of its work.”

Under Erney’s leadership, CBH fostered strategies for cross-system collaboration working extensively with all of the child-serving and human services systems in the city. As a result, CBH was successful in expanding the use of evidence-based interventions in behavioral health care delivery and bolstering the availability of community-based services. CBH also increased the use of trauma-informed care, strengthened services for individuals with serious mental illness, created tobacco-free psychiatric and drug treatment settings and embedded behavioral health clinicians into the city’s health centers with Erney at the helm.

As Philadelphia’s opioid crisis grew, CBH played a critical role in reducing barriers to treatment, expanding addiction services and impacting prescribing practices under Erney. Her accomplishments leading the organization also include reducing the number of children in residential placement, boosting services for children on the autism spectrum and strengthening school-based behavioral health services.

Erney said: “I am honored to have been entrusted with leading this unique organization. The tremendous leadership within DBHIDS and the CBH board of directors have provided the support for CBH to not only work effectively but to thrive and continue to grow. Equally as important, working with the extraordinary staff at CBH has been a great joy and a tremendous professional accomplishment on which to end my career.”

Erney continued: “My goal as CEO was not only to have us meet the behavioral health care demands of Philadelphia but to do so with integrity and excellence. It has been my great privilege to work so closely with our dedicated provider network over the past six years. I am proud of the work we have accomplished together to create a robust continuum of high-quality services to help Philadelphians with behavioral health challenges achieve recovery.”

It was during Erney’s tenure that the number of Philadelphians eligible to receive behavioral health care coverage through CBH ballooned to an all-time high of more than 700,000. Chief Operating Officer Bailey worked closely with Erney on making infrastructure adjustments at CBH to meet that burgeoning demand.

Bailey said when she becomes interim CEO she plans to build on the successes CBH accomplished under Erney and ensure that the treatment experience of those struggling with substance use disorder and mental health challenges in Philadelphia “drives our work.” After serving as an executive team member of CBH for the past six years, she’ll take the helm as CBH begins working with its provider agencies to shift from a fee-for-service payment model to value-based behavioral health care.

“We have an incredible team at CBH that does all of the heavy lifting every day,” Bailey said. “I am focused on ensuring that CBH operations continue without interruption during this time of transition. And I am honored to help lay the groundwork for our next leader’s success by serving as a bridge that allows the board of directors the time to create a clear and shared vision of CBH’s future and conduct a thoughtful search process.”

Bailey’s distinguished career in executive management includes twice serving as an assistant managing director for the City of Philadelphia. Erney’s retirement from CBH will culminate over 30 years of experience she amassed in the behavioral health field including her leadership roles at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

— Wednesday, August 21, 2019