Peer Support Specialist Margaret Rivers Wins ACAP National “Making a Difference” Award

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — June 03, 2021
Charlotte, NC, June 3, 2021 – Margaret Rivers, an experienced manager, trainer and member support specialist for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, has been honored by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) with its 2021 “Making a Difference” Award.

ACAP is a national trade association which represents public health plans such as Medicaid and Medicare. The award honors an employee of an ACAP member organization “who goes far beyond the boundaries of their job description in efforts to improve their community, support underserved populations, and fulfill community needs.”
Rivers is In-Reach Manager, a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer and Certified Peer Support Specialist at Cardinal Innovations. Her work focuses on the Transitions to Community Living Initiative (TCLI), designed to give adults living with serious mental illnesses an opportunity to live and work in their community and promotes independence by providing long-term housing, community-based services, supported employment and integration into the mainstream community.

Rivers’ leadership and advocacy grew from her own lived experiences, notably a family history of severe mental illness and spending over three years in an institution because of her own serious mental health diagnosis. “I know first-hand how challenging the road to wellness and independent living can be,” she said. “And I am living proof that with hope and the right type of support and services, a person with a mental illness can live a full, rewarding life."

Rivers became Cardinal Innovations’ first In-Reach specialist in 2013. Today, she manages a team that has educated more than 4,000 adults with mental illness living in institutional or group living settings and enabled more than 1,300 to achieve independent supported living.

In addition to the ACAP award, Rivers has been recognized by the State of North Carolina for her work with peer support specialists and is frequently sought out as an expert in her field.

“Margaret’s devotion to serving others is felt not only by our members, their families and our communities, but also by every team member that interacts with her,” said Trey Sutten, Cardinal Innovations CEO. “She has made an extraordinary contribution to helping thousands of North Carolinians with severe mental illness excel. Her accomplishments as a teacher, encourager and contributor to the lives of our members and organization are incomparable.”

About Cardinal Innovations Healthcare: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic. Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.

About ACAP: ACAP represents 66 Safety Net Health Plans, which provide health coverage to more than 20 million people in 29 states. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly-sponsored health programs.

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