Monday, September 19, 2011

End of an era - sort of - at Valley Mental Health

Posted By on September 19, 2011, 3:36 PM

Valley Mental Health's chief executive officer Debra Falvo has always done things her own way. Her departure, it seems, is no different. 

She announced to staff on Friday that she will be leaving her office when her contract expires at the end of 2012. 

In summer 2010, CW ran a cover story that looked at Falvo's winter 2009 announcement of shake-ups and closures to its services without informing Salt Lake County of what she was doing. That prompted a severe rupture between the county, which holds the purse-strings, and Valley, which apparently deemed itself of such a size and presence that its paymaster would follow in the wake of its every decision. The appointment of Optum proved that not to be the case. 

In the announcement, she noted, "Now that we have successfully negotiated what I believe to be a mutually beneficial contract with Optum, and as we move to make the necessary changes for our future, I believe that part of that future includes new leadership."

Falvo continued that she had spent 25 years at Valley and recognized that a change was due for both her and the private non profit organization that provides care for Salt Lake County's mentally ill and has seen tumultuous change of late. While the Valley board begins a search for Falvo's replacement, perhaps staff below the level of upper management will begin to consider, albeit still in the dim future, not only the possibility of a new face at the helm but also what kind of agency their current leader will be handing over come December 2012.

With little media attention having been paid to the impact of Salt Lake County bringing in Optum Health to manage the contract on mental-health services, the ramifications of Valley's loss of control of its own budget for both the agency's bottom line and the mentally ill remain unclear.

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