Community Newsletter: December 2017

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Welcome to Cardinal Innovations COMMUNITY,
a monthly email newsletter for Cardinal Innovations members and families.

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we need your input and involvement - tell us what you'd like to see in COMMUNITY.

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​​Letter from the Interim CEO


If you've seen the news over the last few months, you've heard the conversation surrounding us here at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. It hasn't been good.

We've made mistakes, and unfortunately, the broader conversation has shifted away from what's truly important – helping our members get the healthcare services and supports they need to live healthy, independent and productive lives.

As interim CEO, I'm proud to have the opportunity to work with our employees, healthcare providers, communities and partners to advance our goal of quality care for our members. The actions by DHHS last week align with that goal, as we are committed to working together to improve our governance and ensure that our operations are better aligned with both state and stakeholder expectations.  During this temporary transition period, I want to assure you that everyone's collective focus is on stability, continuity, and working as hard as we can to minimize disruptions for our members, employees and daily operations.

For Cardinal Innovations and our 875 employees across the 20 counties we serve, our mission to improve health and wellness for North Carolinians has never wavered. But we recognize that succeeding in this critical mission together requires openness and transparency, as well as a focus on our members, our provider partnerships, and our people.

Cardinal Innovations pioneered the state's first behavioral health managed care plan, which now insures nearly 1 in 4 of North Carolina's Medicaid enrollees and coordinates care for the uninsured and underinsured. And today, over 850,000 North Carolinians depend on us to help them navigate mental and behavioral health needs, intellectual and developmental disabilities, substance use disorders and other complex care challenges. 

We've dedicated half of our entire Cardinal Innovations workforce solely to connecting with our members. Our care coordination and member engagement teams are located on the ground in the communities we serve—reaching out to members in person to understand each individual's needs and to ensure they get the best care possible. 

And it is our belief that this support must extend beyond healthcare. For many people, it's tough to focus on keeping yourself healthy if you're worried about having a roof over your head. Our Cardinal Innovations' teams help people with mental illness find and choose housing in their communities through a program called the Transitions to Community Living Initiative. We're proud of how many individuals we have placed through this program.  

When U.S. veterans find themselves in times of crisis, our VeteransLink program is there to support them with services, resources and training.  We've also piloted multiple new clinical programs this year, addressing previously unmet needs such as more robust trauma-informed care, support during the transition from child to adulthood, IDD Care Coordination technical assistance programs, and partnerships to open multiple facility-based crisis centers throughout our 20 counties.

Having spent two and a half years managing the state's $13.7 billion Medicaid budget, I saw first-hand how this community-based approach to care benefits our state's most vulnerable citizens. And as healthcare reform evolves, it's more important than ever for us to listen and understand.

In the coming weeks and months, I will work with employees and partners inside and outside the organization to develop a plan for moving Cardinal Innovations forward – a plan to clearly define our role, capitalizing on our strengths, focusing on the needs of the people we serve, and contemplating the shifting healthcare landscape in North Carolina.

As we look ahead, I'd like to reaffirm my commitment to you—to rebuilding your trust and to helping you, your loved ones, and your communities thrive through better healthcare.

- Trey Sutten, Interim CEO
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare


Home for the Holidays: Transitions to Community Living


For about a decade, James Dunham and Patricia Kuhl of Charlotte lived in an assisted living facility, dreaming of having their own home and celebrating the holidays with a Christmas tree. That dream of living independently came true last December with help from the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s Transitions to Community Living (TCL) team.

Cardinal Innovations’ TCL staff helps people with mental illness find and choose housing in their communities and, to date, has helped 507 individuals find homes since the program began. 

Cardinal Innovations Transition Support Specialist Nia Anderson made sure the couple had a tree with ornaments following the couples’ move in date on December 1, 2016. She remembers hearing Patricia whisper to James, “We have a tree.” Anderson placed a wrapped gift for each of them under the tree. 

“They both were very excited,” she said. “James didn’t show much emotion during most of his journey, but he smiled that day.” TCL began in 2012 when the State of North Carolina entered into a settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice to ensure that individuals with mental illness are able to live in their communities in the least restrictive settings of their choice.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services is implementing the agreement through the TCL Initiative. Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s TCL unit is part of its Care Coordination Department.

One of the challenges facing TCL is finding affordable housing. Cardinal Innovations employs Community Engagement Housing Specialists who work in the organizations’ 20 counties, building understanding and partnerships with local landlords. These specialists cultivate relationships with the landlords and offer their support as well as training. Mental Health First Aid is one of the trainings that has been offered to landlords and their staff members. 

Cardinal Innovations is proud to lead the state in helping more members find and move into their own homes.


CFAC Corner

CFAC-meeting.jpg CFAC Overview: A Local Voice for Members and their Families

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare supports seven CFACs representing 20 counties.  We recognize the unique perspective and abilities that members and their families bring, and our system is dedicated to providing them this opportunity to advise us regarding community and member needs. We believe that collaboration between communities, families, and members is a cornerstone for our members living their best lives. The Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (CFAC) is an example of this partnership in care, and is a forum for members and their families to have their voices heard. 

CFACs were created by the state to provide active participation by members and family members.  They are self-governing groups that have a choice to receive administrative support from the Cardinal Innovations staff.  CFAC Members are volunteers who help inform decisions and initiatives that improve the health and wellness of our members. CFAC functions include:

  • Advise and comment on MH/IDD/SUD services at the local and state levels
  • Make suggestions on how to educate members so they know what services are available and how to access them
  • Provide advice about developing new services
  • Take part in monitoring how services are developed and delivered
  • Help identify people who are not receiving services 
  • Take part in the quality improvement process Encourage member and family participation

The CFAC consists of adult volunteers age 18 or older who receive services for mental health, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or substance use disorder (MH/IDD/SUD) or are family members of those receiving services.  There are currently groups available in each of the following regions: 

Each of these local committees also selects three representatives (one for each of the three care areas of MH/IDD/SUD) who serve on an advisory group consisting of membership from each of the local CFACs.  This collaboration allows for the various groups to do shared goal setting and problem-solving.  

For more information on the Consumer & Family Advisory Committees please e-mail and we’ll direct your inquiry to the CFAC in your region. Or please find additional details on our website

NC Innovations Waiver Update


NC Waiver Renewals: Member Feedback

Cardinal Innovations and other LME/MCOs throughout North Carolina are able to operate, in part, due to agreements with the federal government known as waivers. Waivers allow states certain exceptions to Medicaid requirements in order to offer health benefits in new and unique ways to best meet individual needs.

North Carolina operates two Medicaid waivers - known jointly as the 1915(b)(c) waiver - for people with mental health conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders. The goals of the waivers are to:

  • Better tailor services to the local consumer by adopting a consumer-directed care model and focusing on community-based rather than facility-based care. 
  • Enhance consumer involvement in planning and providing services through the use of mental health recovery model concepts. 
  • Demonstrate that care can be provided more efficiently with increased local control. 

The North Carolina 1915(b)(c) waiver, which includes the North Carolina Innovations Waiver, provides services and supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have lives in the community of their choice, which includes where they live, how they spend their day, have fun and build relationships.

Both waivers are being renewed by the state of North Carolina with the federal government. The renewal process is a chance for the state to make changes to its waivers to better tailor care for the needs of the people it serves. 

This is an opportunity to make the waivers work better, and member input is a critical part of that process. Next month, Cardinal Innovations will be asking members and stakeholders for specific feedback on the waivers as they go through the renewal process. Specifically, we will be asking members to share with us what is working, what is not working, and where improvements can be made.

Stay tuned for more details on the waiver feedback process in an upcoming edition of Cardinal Innovations COMMUNITY.


New Board of Directors

board-of-directors2.jpgIn partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC), we are pleased to announce the solicitation of nominations as part of an expedited process to select Cardinal Innovations’ next Board of Directors.

Those interested in serving on the Cardinal Innovations Board should submit a resume, cover letter and up to three letters of support to by Monday, December 11, 2017. Individuals are permitted to self-nominate for a position on the Cardinal Innovations Board. Cover letters accompanying nominations should include qualifications of the individual nominee, with specific emphasis on both prior board experience and/or experience in healthcare, experience with mental health, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities as outlined in NC General Statute § 122C-118.1.


Training and Events

training-and-events2.jpgThe latest training and events for members, families, providers, and community stakeholders across all 20 Cardinal Innovations’ counties can be found on our training page. Check back often because information is frequently updated.


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Sent on December 6, 2017



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