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As Heroin Deaths Mount, Philly Gets New Leader in the Fight

by Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer

With Philadelphia confronting an unprecedented opioid crisis, Mayor Kenney has confirmed a new leader for the department charged with leading the fight. David T. Jones, who has been acting commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) since January, may now remove the “acting” from before the title.

Kenney announced Friday that after a five-month-long national search for a new commissioner, Jones will be the department’s new leader. Jones replaces Arthur C. Evans Jr., who left in January to become CEO of the American Psychological Association.Jones, 52, will oversee the department, which has a $1 billion-a-year budget and nearly 800 employees. The agency is charged with managing the city’s mental health services, addiction treatments, and disability services for adults and children.

“This agency and its dedicated staff are closely involved with some of the most pressing issues facing our children, adults, and families, including the growing, sad to say, opioid epidemic and responding to individuals who are homeless and dealing with substance misuse or mental health challenges, Kenney said during Friday’s announcement.

When Kenney announced Jones’ name to a standing room only crowd in the Mayor’s Reception Room, the room broke out in cheers and applause. Jones is said to have a lot of supporters within the department.

Kenney said Jones has “the knowledge, the vision and the ability to lead DBHIDS and ensure that those in need receive the best service and treatment possible.”

Jones has been with the department since 2013, serving as a deputy commissioner before he was tapped to fill in as acting commissioner in January. As deputy commissioner, Jones oversaw the department’s fiscal and administrative operations. Prior to his time at DBHIDS, Jones was chief of behavioral health and crisis services for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services in Maryland.

At the announcement Friday, Jones praised the staff at DBHIDS.

“These folks have great acumen. They have tremendous skill sets and they are certainly committed to serving Philadelphians,” Jones said. He also said he looked forward to continuing to work with the various city departments such as police and health to address the many needs of the city.

At the public forefront of the issues is the opioid crisis. More than 900 people died last year from opioid overdoses, a 30 percent increase from 2015. This number of fatalities this year is expected to surpass last year’s numbers.

Jones’ department will be responsible for implementing the recommendations brought forth in May by the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Crisis. Jones said Friday that work has already begun by increasing the number of treatment slots available.

“It’s going to be a continued work in progress,” he said of the rollout of the task force recommendations.

Brittany Borden

Brittany Borden

Monica Lewis-Wilborn

Monica Lewis-Wilborn

Andrea L. Brooks, MSW, LSW

Andrea L. Brooks, MSW, LSW

Nicole Connell, M.Ed.

Nicole Connell, M.Ed.

Peer Culture Support and Leadership Report Launch (POSTPONED)

Note: This event has been postponed. Additional information will be added once the event has been rescheduled.

DBHIDS is pleased to announce the completion of the Peer Culture Report, A Decade of Peer Culture, Support and Leadership: Igniting Behavioral Health Transformation in Philadelphia. Please join us as we launch the peer culture report and a new web-based Peer-Support Toolkit

You will learn about the recent changes to DBHIDS’ Strategic Planning Division. Learn about DBHIDS Peer Culture and Community Inclusion Unit: Who we are and what we do. Learn about the analysis of impact of a decade of peer culture, support and leadership in Philadelphia. Lessons learned and future direction of Philadelphia systems transformation.

Learn about DBHIDS’ new web-based Peer-Support Toolkit and how to use it for:

  1.  Preparing the Organizational Culture
  2.  Interviewing and Hiring
  3.  Service Delivery
  4.  Supervision and Retention

 

Commissioner Evans Named Philadelphia ‘Power Person’

philly-winner-badge-1Commissioner Arthur C. Evans, Ph.D., has been named the winner of the 2016 Philly Happenings List in the Power Person category. The award is sponsored by Philly Happenings, Philadelphia’s premier digital magazine. The Happenings List is the city’s People’s Choice competition, voted on by the people of Philadelphia, and features all of the best Philly people, places, businesses, and events.

Dr. Evans was nominated for the Philly Happenings Power Person award due much in part to his leadership, commitment, and innovation over the past decade to transforming Philadelphia’s behavioral health and intellectual disAbility service system.

The other nominees for the Philly Happenings Power Person award were Elicia Gonzales, executive director of GALAEI, and Josh Kopelman, partner and founder of FirstRound Capital.

In addition to Dr. Evans’ win in the Power Person category, DBHIDS also won in the category “Best Outdoor Event” for our National Depression Screening day events in October.

Sandy Vasko

Sandy Vasko

Lawrence Real, M.D.

Lawrence Real, M.D.

Denise Taylor Patterson

Denise Taylor Patterson

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