Community Newsletter: January 2018

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​​Letter from the Interim CEO


The start of a new year means new beginnings, making resolutions and setting new goals for ourselves. The start of this new year is especially meaningful to Cardinal Innovations.

Here at Cardinal Innovations, we started 2018 by meeting with our newly appointed Board of Directors on January 6. There was a large group on-hand to welcome and speak to our new board members, and collectively, I was impressed by the experience, engagement and excitement in the room. There was good conversation and concerns shared about past actions, and we presented a preliminary Corrective Action Plan that the board and DHHS will help us finalize in the coming weeks. The goal of this plan is to ensure Cardinal Innovations’ new board and our regulators agree on where we need to make changes and refocus the organization’s resources on our members. Overall, the sentiment of the meeting was positive. Our Board of Directors will meet again on January 26 and 27. The location of this meeting is yet to be determined, but we will post details on our website as soon as they are finalized.

As we look further into 2018, we will continue to see the healthcare landscape evolve here in North Carolina and across the country. The Cardinal Innovations team will be closely monitoring the changes, working with DHHS to understand their vision, assessing the potential impacts to our members and providers, and planning accordingly. There are still many unknowns, but we take very seriously our responsibility to our members and will work in a deliberate manner to understand and plan for the changes that Medicaid reform will bring.

I know Cardinal Innovations can and will build from our foundation to better serve our members in 2018. In short order, I will be working with the new board to set goals for the year and we will achieve those goals. And we don’t have to look far to see how it should work.

Dustin is a member of ours from Stanly County that was born with Autism. Dustin, with the support of his care coordinators, identified some personal goals as a part of his annual planning process. As a huge fan of Elvis Presley, Dustin’s end goal was to visit Graceland. Dustin, along with his care team, made a list of milestones he needed to meet in order to make a trip to Graceland a possibility. Throughout the year, Dustin and his entire care team stayed focused on his milestones and the steps that would get him there. Last October, Dustin’s lifelong dream of visiting Graceland became a reality. Congratulations, Dustin.


I wanted to share Dustin’s story for two reasons. First, Dustin’s story should remind us all that we can have a direct and positive impact on our members. Second, it serves as a reminder that we can achieve anything by setting goals, working together, and staying focused.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

- Trey Sutten, Interim CEO
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare


Protect Your Mental Health during the Winter Months            

winter-weather.jpgThe winter months and holidays can be a time of joy and celebration, but also can be a time when individuals are more susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression.

“This time of year can be challenging,” said Dr. Aubry Hildebrandt, an Integrated Care Strategist with Cardinal Innovations Healthcare and a licensed marriage and family therapist. “It’s a colder time of year so people spend more time inside and don’t go out as much. That piece can increase isolation and loneliness.”

The holidays also can be an emotional time, bringing up positive and negative feelings for people of all ages. It is important to know the symptoms of depression and to take steps to protect one’s mental health this time of year, Hildebrandt said. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, decreased appetite, and feelings of hopelessness. Some individuals may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern.

Britney Phifer, a Clinical Analyst at Cardinal Innovations who also is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed clinical additions specialist, said intentionally seeking interaction with others is crucial this time of year to protect one’s mental health.

“We really want to drive home the importance of interacting with other people,” Phifer said. “Like the way physical activity is good for your body, social activity is good for your brain. Multiple studies show it leads to better cognitive function in addition to improving mental health overall.”

Here are some tips to help protect your mental health this winter:

Care for your overall health. Physical activity reduces depression and anxiety. Adequate nutrition is also important to maintaining your mental health during the winter months.

Tips: If getting adequate nutrition is difficult, look into Meals on Wheels, a program which can deliver hot meals to you. Try to find a safe, warm and accessible place to exercise such as an indoor track or pool, a gym or even a mall where you can walk for exercise. Some community centers or community colleges may offer exercise classes. 

Social interaction and living in a neighborhood environment. Multiple studies conclude that a social support network and social interaction reduce negative mental health symptoms. One study showed the value that living in a neighborhood environment later in life can have, as this increases social interaction.

Tip: Head to the local community center for social interaction. Look for older adult meet-up groups, book clubs, interest groups or groups online.

Get a pet. Pet owners get more physical exercise and have lower triglyceride levels than their non-pet-owning counterparts.

Tip: If it’s not possible to own a pet, consider finding a volunteer opportunity with a local animal shelter or Humane Society where you can interact with the animals or temporarily foster a pet until it can be placed in its permanent home.

Volunteer. People who spent time volunteering experienced a greater psychological well-being, according to one study.

Tips: Consider finding a way to share your talents through teaching and tutoring, mentoring, childcare and in other ways. You can often identify volunteer opportunities using the internet, local library, community center or through a church or religious center.

You also can help protect each other. Be a community ambassador in the fight against isolation and loneliness by keeping an eye out for neighbors who do not leave their homes and have infrequent visitors.

“We want to empower people to watch for isolation and loneliness,” Phifer said. “They can be on the lookout for others who might be experiencing these symptoms.”

As a final reminder, individuals who find themselves or a loved one in need of immediate mental health support are encouraged to call Cardinal Innovations 24/7 Access/Crisis Line, 1.800.939.5911.

When in doubt, please reach out!


Medicaid Waiver Survey: Input Needed

feedback.jpgThe state of North Carolina is currently in the process of renewing its Medicaid waivers with the federal government. The renewal process is a chance to make changes to the waivers (for example, what services are offered and how services are delivered) to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or substance use disorders (IDD/MH/SUD) have the support they need to live healthy, safe, and productive lives in the community. 

It is important to provide feedback during this process so the waivers can continue to serve people better. We are asking members and stakeholders to share their feedback on the waivers: what is working, what is not working, and where improvements could be made. 

We invite you to complete this short survey by January 31, 2018 so we may compile your feedback in a timely manner to present to the state.

Provide feedback by clicking here.



Cardinal Innovations manages Medicaid benefits for people in North Carolina, in part, through agreements between the state and federal government known as waivers. Waivers allow states to offer Medicaid health benefits in new and unique ways to best meet individual needs. 


Click here for details on Cardinal Innovations’ 1915(c) (also known as NC Innovations) Waiver services.


Click here for details on Cardinal Innovations’ (b)(3) services.

CFAC Spotlight: Alamance-Caswell

CFAC-meeting3.jpgJeanette Williamson of Burlington, N.C., has been in recovery from substance use disorder since June 6, 2006. Today, she serves as the chairperson of Cardinal Innovations Alamance-Caswell Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (CFAC), a role that is her way of giving back and providing a voice for others with similar struggles, she said. 

“I was in recovery for many years and I needed a way to stay in recovery and to stay clean. I also wanted a way to give back to the community that I had to leave behind in order to survive. CFAC provided that for me,” Williamson said, explaining how she first got involved about four years ago. “They provided a safe haven for me, a place where I can go and be in recovery and still be able to learn and still be able to stay clean and sober.”

CFACs provide a means for adult members or family of members served by Cardinal Innovations to have voices in their local behavioral health system. CFAC members discuss community service issues, learn about the operations of Cardinal Innovations and give feedback. Cardinal Innovations has CFACs located in all of its communities. 

“Why it’s so important to me is that it gives me a voice to speak on behalf of others who, like myself, have in the past struggled with substance use,” Williamson said. 

“I’m just glad that I’m part of Cardinal Innovations CFAC and I’m able to be a part of an organization that’s trying to make a difference,” she said.

jeanette-williamson-CFAC.jpegOne of the ways CFAC allows Williamson to give back to her community is by sharing information at community events. She participates in a recovery event every September. The Alamance-Caswell CFAC has distributed gift bags with crisis and treatment information to individuals who were living on the streets and still struggling with substance use disorder. The also shared information in the fall at their booth at the annual Carousel Festival in Burlington, N.C. 

Williamson said she also enjoys the training opportunities that are provided to CFAC members. “They have training opportunities, conferences and seminars that help us along the way. They provide the tools that help us engage with our community and empower others to do the same…It keeps you and your family members involved in state policy as well.” 

As Cardinal Innovations members and their family members think about making New Year’s resolutions this year, Williamson encourages them to consider joining their local CFAC to make a positive impact in their own and others’ care.

“If you want to make a real difference in your circumstances or for those you love, then the local CFAC is where you should begin to get connected,” she said. “It is hard work and it is a commitment, but it gives you an opportunity to make a positive difference.” 

The Alamance-Caswell CFAC meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every other month at Cardinal Innovations Burlington office located at 2929 Crouse Lane, Suite B, in Burlington, N.C. These meetings are open to the public.                 

If you would like to contact the Alamance-Caswell​ CFAC to provide input regarding services, service gaps or any other issue, email:​.

Click here for more information about CFACs.


Service Spotlight

Family Centered Treatment

service-spotlight.jpgFamily Centered Treatment (FCT) is an evidenced-based practice and a model of home-based treatment that aims to lower the rate of children being placed out of their home for residential treatment. This service is implemented through direct intervention with both the child and the family, and incorporates other systems such as schools, child welfare and justice, as well as primary care physicians. FCT provides direct 24-hour crisis intervention to the families it supports.

Goals of FCT:

  • Family stability
  • Reduction in hurtful and harmful behaviors
  • Emotional and functioning balance for the family
  • Long-term positive behavioral changes
  • Discovery of family strengths necessary for sustaining change


Family Centered Treatment: A Success Story

Before being referred to Family Centered Treatment (FCT), Joseph* spent 11 years struggling to live at home with his mother and siblings and was placed outside the home many times. Due to his dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental health needs, his mother felt at times that she didn’t know another way to keep him safe. From ages 5 to 16, he was unable to live at home for more than two to three months at a time. 

The placements took a toll, preventing the mother and son from establishing a strong emotional connection and attachment. Joseph’s mom knew she needed him at home. Eight months after starting FCT, the family has learned new ways to handle crises and Joseph is still living at home. He has a part time job and is taking college courses. His mom is pursuing a degree in psychology to be able to help others. More importantly, Joseph and his mom have developed an emotional bond that opened communication, and Joseph has been able to share with his mom how he felt each time he went into placement.

FCT is specifically targeted towards:

  • Individuals who have previously had residential treatment with unsuccessful family reunification
  • Individuals at risk for higher and more restrictive levels of residential treatment
  • Individuals who have been hospitalized but have had little prior treatment and the hospital is recommending residential services
  • Individuals currently in residential treatment where discharge is being prolonged due to lack of family systems in place to make the transition successful
  • Individuals with extensive histories of unsuccessful outcomes in other treatment settings

*names have been changed to protect privacy.


Applicants Sought for Client Rights Committee

application.jpgCardinal Innovations Healthcare is seeking applicants for our Client Rights Committee. The committee is comprised of members, family members and expert advisors from the community who meet at least quarterly. The committee:

• Oversees clients' rights protections
• Assures clients are treated with dignity and respect, and that they receive care in a safe and appropriate environment
• Promotes awareness and education

At least 50 percent of the committee should be Cardinal Innovations members or family members. Representation is required from all disability groups, with membership from each of Cardinal Innovations 20 counties. Cardinal Innovations staff who serve on the committee do so as non-voting members. Applicants should:

• Have the ability to work with others as a team
• Be able to be impartial and fair

Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each designated month at Cardinal Innovations, 2929 Crouse Lane, Burlington, N.C.

Interested parties should contact Whitney Robertson, Member Engagement Specialist, at 919.623.0150 or via email at before February 1.


Training and Events

training-and-events3.jpgJoin us at an upcoming event or training session! 


Click here for a complete list of trainings and events across all of our communities.

Upcoming events include:


ABLE Act Training for the Triad Region

Cardinal Innovations will offer several opportunities for individuals in the Triad Region to learn more about the ABLE Act and its potential financial benefits for you or your loved one living with a disability. These sessions are open to the public and registration is not required. 


  • ABLE Act Training for the Triad Region

January 3, 2018, and May 2, 2018, noon to 1 p.m.

Rockingham Wellness Center

509 South Van Buren Road, Suite C, Eden, N.C.


  • ABLE Act Training for the Triad Region

February 19, 2018, and June 18, 2018, noon to 1 p.m.

Davie Wellness Center

142 Gaither Street, Mocksville, N.C.


  • ABLE Act Training for the Triad Region

March 13, 2018, noon to 1 p.m

Stokes Wellness Center

3169 N.C. 8 Highway South, Suite 200, Walnut Cove, N.C. 


Cardinal Innovations Overview and Guardianship Training

Participants will hear about services available through Cardinal Innovations. They also will receive an introduction to guardianship, including when it may be appropriate, and alternatives to guardianship.

  • Cardinal Overview and Guardianship Training

January 16, 6 p.m.

Voice of Hope Baptist Church

7522 Robinson Church Road, Charlotte, N.C.

Click here to register.



Visit our training page to see all of our upcoming events and find out how you can schedule a training in your community.


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Sent on January 10, 2018



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