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Mental Health Authority To Hold Forums Ahead Of $700M Contract Bid

CBS DETROIT - The newly formed Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority will hold six community forums starting this Thursday where leaders will discuss the rebidding process of $700 million in contracts.

The authority was formed last October after years of debate.

The DWMHA was created and Tom Watkins, former state superintendent of schools and mental health director of Michigan, was hired to be its president and CEO.

Watkins reports to a board of 12 community volunteers, half appointed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and half by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and approved by the Wayne County Commission.

"I am a firm believer of engaging, consumers, the public and community stakeholders in decisions that impact their lives," said Watkins, who held similar forums in his earlier statewide positions.

"While our board has the final say on the policy direction of the Mental Health Authority, we always make better decisions when we take the time to listen and learn," Watkins added.

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority is one of the largest local government organizations you likely haven't heard much about.

They operate with an annual budget of $700 million to provide care for adults with serious mental illness, children with emotional difficulties, persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and beginning this year- substance uses disorders. It is the largest such organization in the country.

Under state law, the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority has the task of integrating substance uses disorder programs into the mental health system, integrating its service with primary care providers to implement the Affordable Care Act and rebid the entire system of care before the end of the year.

2013 Authority Board Swearing In
DWMHA Board Members: Thomas Kochis, Frank Ross, Judge Timothy Kenny, County Commissioner, Tim Killeen, Terence Thomas (Bottom Row) Constance Rowley, Roberta Sanders, Dr. Herbert Smitherman, Dr. Cheryl Munday, Erin Murria, Dr. Cynthia Taueg, Tom Watkins - President & CEO, Sandra Peppers - COO

"Basically this means we will put out a RFP (Request For Proposal) saying we have approximately $700 million available to purchase quality residential and therapeutic care for persons in need of mental health and substance use disorders," Watkins said.

The process to rebid of the mental health system contracts in Wayne County started in 2009 but was never completed.

Watkins added, "While we have a dedicated and strong provider network currently, the system has not been rebid in over a decade and can uses a tune-up."

The purpose of these hearings is to lay out a vision for the authority, seek ideas and input, and talk about the rebidding of contacts which will be done by the end of 2014.

"Our goal is to be a consumer and community focused, data-driven and evidence-based organization that strives to provide a broad array of supports and services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community with the highest quality care," Watkins said.

Unable to attend the community forums? Feedback can be provided at the Authority's website and you can track the progress and receive more information at:

The community forums are as follows:

Thur, March 6th 5p-8p
Soul Harvest Ministries
16300 Woodward
Highland Park, MI  48203

Thur, March 13th 5p-8p
Westland Public Library
6123 Central City Pkwy
Westland, MI 48185

Thur, March 20th 5p-8p
WCCC—Taylor Campus
21000 Northline Rd
Taylor, MI  48180

Thur, March 27th 5p-8p
Northwest Activity Center
18100 Meyers Rd
Detroit, MI  48235

Thur, April 3rd 5p-8p
Redford Community Center
12121 Hemingway
Redford, MI  48239

Thur, April 10rd 5p-8p
WCCC—Conner Campus
5901 Conner
Detroit, MI  48213

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