News Article Details

Scranton agency to pick up former Merakey clients

Times-Tribune - 10/27/2018

Oct. 27--A Scranton behavioral health agency will pick up services for about 1,500 clients where another provider left off.

Friendship House will manage cases for the children, teenagers and adults with disabilities who had been served by Merakey.

Merakey, a national behavioral and mental health provider, announced in August that it was pulling out of Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Pike and Wayne counties.

Low insurance reimbursement rates had made continuing operations unsustainable, the company said in August.

Friendship House, a sister agency of the Advocacy Alliance and both under the umbrella corporation Human Services Alliance, is hiring about 50 new case managers, clinical mental health professionals and administrative staff to oversee the new cases.

Many of them are former Merakey employees, so a number of clients should see minimal service interruptions, if any at all.

Friendship House will not renew the lease for Merakey's Main Street, Carbondale, office.

Instead, the agency is working to secure another location in the Greater Carbondale area that offers off-street parking, Friendship House President and Chief Executive Officer Alex J. Hazzouri said.

Clients may choose whichever provider they prefer, Merakey officials said in a statement, adding that the departing company helped connect clients to Friendship House specifically.

In light of Merakey's impending absence, Friendship House applied to be the designated service provider for upper Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties.

The Lackawanna-Susquehanna Counties Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention Program and Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium awarded the designation effective Friday, Nov. 1, one day after Merakey's client contracts end.

Hazzouri expects a seamless transition.

"Folks will not go unserved," he said. "We've already communicated with all the people receiving services currently from Merakey, and any of those who are children and adolescents, we communicated with their parents and/or guardians."

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