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Government


Ohio Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services merge
Director says the merger of the two departments will save state $1.5 million a year, director says
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Tracy Plouck speaks at Kent State University Nov. 14, 2011. Plouck is now the director of the merged Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Courtesy of Kent State University
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In The Region:

The state has a new agency today, with the merging of two existing agencies. The Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services are now the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The agency will be headed by the state’s mental health director, Tracy Plouck. She says it will help the state reach out to the estimated 3.5 million Ohioans who are dealing with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems. But she insists it will not be a giant “mega-agency.”

LISTEN: PLOUCK ON MERGER

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"We are not adding staff as of a result of this consolidation," Plouck says. "We are actually decreasing through some attrition over time. So we're proud of the fact that we've not had to do any layoffs resulting from this but every dollar that we save, we are going to put into services."

Plouck says the merger will save the state $1.5 million a year, which will go into community innovations.

Ohio also has county-level boards dealing with mental health and alcohol and drug addictions. Most of those have already merged. Plouck says her department will not order the three counties that still have two separate agencies to merge becaue that remains a local decision.

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