Good morning Chairperson Catania, members of the Council and staff. I am Stephen Baron, Acting Director of the Department of Mental Health. As Ms. Thomas stated, today is my first day on the job, so my remarks will be brief. First, I would like to thank Mayor Williams for asking me to bring my 30 years of experience as a mental health practitioner and administrator to the DC Department of Mental Health. During the past 17 years, I led the Baltimore mental health system, so I am familiar with meeting the challenges of providing mental health services in an urban environment. I also would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee on Health.
The DMH staff has accomplished much in the Department’s first five years – creating a community-based system to serve thousands more people than before 2001, adopting the Medicaid Reimbursable Option to leverage federal dollars, and developing the standards by which service providers deliver services.
My role during the next several weeks is to learn the specific issues that are impeding DMH’s ability to ensure effective service delivery and efficient management of the resources that support those services.
I will engage employees in one-on-one dialogue as well as group discussions. I also will seek the counsel of consumers and their families, advocates and providers. Of course, I am looking forward to discussing these issues with you and learning your ideas for moving the system forward.
Fortunately, Deputy Mayor Brenda Donald Walker had KPMG begin to assess these issues and develop recommendations that are contained within its interim report. I look forward to working with DMH employees to develop a work plan to implement those recommendations.
Again, thank you, Chairperson Catania, for this opportunity to address the Council.