Year of change at Verde Valley Guidance Clinic

Robert Cartia

Robert Cartia

Growth and improvement were the major themes in 2012 at the Verde Valley Guidance Clinic. In its forty-seventh year of service to the Verde Valley and Sedona area, the Clinic expanded it primary care operations, provided over 2,000 persons with behavioral health services, and made organizational changes that will provide new leadership in the years ahead.

Verde Valley Guidance Clinic expanded its primary medical care service capacity with the acquisition of Valley Medical Center, a pediatric and family medicine practice located at 214 So. Main St. in Cottonwood. Valley Medical Center had been owned and operated by Dr. Henry Kaldenbaugh, M.D. since it opened in 1989. Dr. Kaldenbaugh and his staff, including Dr. Jura Adomeniene, M.D., a board certified Pediatrician, joined the Verde Valley Guidance Clinic's primary care staff and will continue to see patients in the same location. Dr. Kurt Kommer became Medical Director of the Clinic's primary care services division, including Valley Medical Center and Verde Valley Connections Primary Care at the Clinic's East Cottonwood St. campus.

Also in 2012, Verde Valley Guidance Clinic CEO Robert Cartia announced the appointment of Dr. Debbie Ford as the Clinic's Chief Medical Officer, replacing Dr. Francis Gagliardi, who remains a member of the Clinic's psychiatric staff. In announcing the appointment, Cartia stated, "We are thrilled to have someone of Dr. Ford's caliber currently on staff to pick up the wonderful work that Dr. Gagliardi has performed for the past 15 years.  We all owe Dr. G. a great deal of gratitude for the work he has done on behalf of the patients and the clinic." Dr. Ford is board certified in pediatrics, child and adult psychiatry.

Two new positions were created in the management team as Cartia announced the promotion of former Children's Program Director Scott Roderick to take on the duties of Director of Clinical Operations, and the hiring of Catherine Coscia as Director of Human Resources.

The Clinic established the Cultural Proficiency Committee (CPC) to ensure that, as a team of co-workers, we have the awareness and understanding essential to inspire the delivery of culturally competent and sensitive services, and continued to implement the new open access policy, designed, as Cartia said, "to be much more efficient and customer service oriented while providing high quality services."

Clinic sponsored community events during the year included a celebration of recovery at Garrison Park, a state legislative candidate forum, and classes in Mental Health First Aid, which trained over 100 people how to recognize mental problems and assist people in finding professional help.

Clinic and individual achievements were recognized when CEO Cartia received the prestigious Leadership in Services Award, presented by the Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy at their annual Summer Institute in Sedona. In September, Clinic board member Rose Boerner was honored at the annual dinner of the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority with the Family Award. Boerner was recognized for her advocacy and support of persons with serious mental illness. In addition to her service on the Clinic's board of directors, she is President of the Sedona Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The Verde Valley Guidance Clinic's reputation for excellence and innovation in services resulted in a number of invitations for Clinic staff and leadership to speak at various local, state and national conferences. Highlights included an invitation for Cartia, and Patty May, Program Manager of the Clinic's Women's World residential treatment facility, to present at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare's Annual Mental Health and Addictions Conference in Chicago.

Dr. Francis Gagliardi M.D. participated in a panel discussion on innovative models of integrated care in Arizona at the winter conference of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists in Phoenix. Mr. Cartia and Dr Thomas DeStefano, an education professor at NAU, presented to the annual conference of the National Association for Rural Mental Health in Anchorage, Alaska. Their presentation, titled "Primary Health Care Integration with Behavioral Health Care in Rural Settings" examined the results of Dr. DeStefano's research on the outcomes of the Clinic's program.

As the new year begins, the Verde Valley Guidance Clinic will continue to seek new and better ways to achieve its mission of offering to those we serve an opportunity for recovery through hope, empowerment, partnership and compassion.

Verde Valley Guidance Clinic is contracted through NARBHA, the Regional Behavioral Health Authority for Coconino, Navajo, Yavapai, Apache and Mohave counties.  Funds for services are provided through a contract with the Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services and AHCCCS.

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