ELIZABETHTOWN — Eastpointe Chief Executive Officer Sarah Stroud visited with the Bladen County Board of Commissioners on Monday, giving a presentation in an effort to bring perspective to Eastpointe’s presence in Bladen County.
Eastpointe, which serves a 12-county region in southeastern North Carolina, provides mental health services to those counties — one of which is Bladen, where nine of Eastpointe’s 308 employees are employed.
Using numbers from the 2015-16 fiscal year, Stroud told commissioners that the company had a budget of $325.4 million — $278 million from Medicaid and $52,725 from Bladen County — with a general fund balance of $122 million.
She said Bladen County currently has 10 providers, with the largest being Monarch, along with one independent licensed practitioner and one hospital.
Stroud told the commissioners there are 6,698 indigent residents in the county, defined as those without Medicaid, and that Eastpointe had $4.6 million in claims paid through Medicaid in Bladen County.
“There is a big gap between those with Medicaid and those getting help from the state,” Stroud said.
Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson asked what happens to those in that gap, and Stroud said “many of those in that gap end up in emergency rooms or state facilities.”
Peterson wasn’t satisfied with that, saying “hospitals like ours can’t afford to write off those losses. It seems that your fund balance could be used to help those in the gap — I’d sure like to have a $122 million general fund balance.”
In the area of reinvestment, Stroud said Eastpointe has been proactive through expanding its facility based crisis services in Lumberton, which served 13 residents of Bladen County in 2015-16; has increased its innovations rate by 7 percent; placed kiosks in all county health departments; conducted anti-stigma/bullying events; has done crisis intervention training of law enforcement, dispatchers and EMS; and plans to host the 10th annual Eastern N.C. Gang Awareness Conference.
When Stroud wrapped up her presentation, Peterson asked that she look into what services Southeastern Health is providing and how much money is being spent in Bladen County (by Eastpointe).
“We need the dollars to stay here,” he added.
Also on Monday, commissioners were asked by the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office to consider the hiring of a full-time position that would be shared between Sheriff’s Office training officer and Bladen County Schools safety officer.
“The state has or will be increasing requirements on school safety,” said Capt. Jeff Singletary. “This position would also help with services to churches.”
The money for the position would be shared between Bladen County Schools and the Sheriff’s Office. The officer would be “in the schools two or three days a week” reviewing safety plans with principals and “making sure things are the way they should be,” Singletary said. On other days, the officer would be providing training within the Sheriff’s Office.
Peterson made the motion to approve the position and Commissioner Jimmie Smith seconded it. The motion passed 8-1, with Commissioner Michael Cogdell casting the lone dissenting vote.
In other action, the board:
— Was introduced to the new director of the Division on Aging, Kelly Robeson by Health & Human Services Director David Howell.
— Recognized Tawanna McDonald and Persandra McKinley, employees of the county’s WIC unit of the Department of Social Services, each of whom were honored with an award from the state as WIC employees of the year from Bladen County.
— Presented a proclamation to the Bladen County 4H group that proclaimed October as National 4H Month. In Bladen County 4H serves more than 1,000 youth with more than 100 volunteers.
— Also proclaimed October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and presented Marjorie Lewis of Families First with the proclamation.
The next meeting of the county commissioners is Monday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.