Alliance Clinical Pharmacist Vera Reinstein Wins Award

Vera Farkas Reinstein, PharmD, Alliance’s Clinical Pharmacist, recently received the Cardinal Health Generation Rx Champions Award for excellence in community-based prescription drug abuse prevention.

This award, which was presented at the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists annual convention in September, honors a pharmacist who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to raising awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse among the general public and among the pharmacy community. It is also intended to encourage educational prevention efforts aimed at patients, youth, and other members of the community.

Dr. Reinstein’s role at Alliance includes provider outreach and education, as well as community collaboration on projects around drug overdose and naloxone access. She goes above and beyond in helping NCAP, pharmacists, and North Carolina communities with the opioid epidemic. Dr. Reinstein has volunteered with NCAP to produce two webinars related to naloxone and chronic pain management and is one of several key pharmacists who has helped develop the “NCAP Advanced Opioid Workshop–Transforming Practice to Save Lives,” which was offered for the first time at the NCAP convention.

During the past year, Dr. Reinstein has been instrumental in helping with efforts to reduce the risk of injection-related infections by making connections for syringe exchange programs with community pharmacies willing to sell syringes. She also recognized a need for an up-to-date drug disposal guide and authored an infographic to be placed on the NC Board of Pharmacy website for public access and to help pharmacists with patient education.

The Cardinal Health Foundation (not affiliated with Cardinal Innovations Healthcare) supports local, national and international programs that improve health care quality and build healthy communities. The Cardinal Health Foundation also offers grants to encourage employee service to the community and works through international agencies to donate much-needed medical supplies and funding to those who need them in times of disaster. To learn more, visit

The Alliance for Patient Medication Safety (APMS) was established by the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) and is listed as a Patient Safety Organization with the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). The mission of APMS is to foster a culture of quality within the profession of pharmacy that promotes a continuous systems analysis to develop best practices that will reduce medication errors, improve medication use and enhance patient care. To learn more, visit


Human Rights Committee Meeting Rescheduled

The October 11 meeting of the Alliance Board Human Rights Committee that was canceled due to recent inclement weather will be held on Wednesday, October 17 at 4:00pm in Office 210 at the Alliance Home Office.

October 2018 Alliance InTouch newsletter now available

The October 2018 edition of the Alliance InTouch newsletter for Alliance employees, friends and community members is now available! Stay “in touch” with what is going on at Alliance and the important work we do to deliver the best care to the people we serve.

Read and download the Alliance InTouch newsletter.

Cumberland CFAC Meeting Canceled

The Cumberland CFAC meeting scheduled for September 27 is canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The group will resume its normal schedule next month.​

Advancing NC Whole Health Establishes Partnership to Deliver Integrated Behavioral Health and Pharmacy Services to NC Medicaid Beneficiaries

Coalition of LME/MCOs and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina partner to ease the transition to managed care for Medicaid members with behavioral health needs and to promote the integration of physical health and pharmaceutical services

DURHAM, NC – Advancing NC Whole Health, a coalition of three high-performing local management entity/managed care organizations (LME/MCOs) – Vaya Health, Trillium Health Resources and Alliance Behavioral Healthcare – announced today that it has entered into an agreement with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina to collaborate on the delivery of integrated behavioral health, physical health and pharmacy services to beneficiaries in the State’s new Medicaid managed care program slated to launch in the fall of 2019.

Through their combined strengths, members of the partnership will offer their unique resources and experience to new health plans under the Medicaid and NC Health Choice 1115 Demonstration Waiver. By doing so, the partnership is committed to demonstrating to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the General Assembly that managed care organizations can successfully work together to implement Medicaid transformation in a way that advances high-quality care, improves population health, engages and supports providers and establishes a sustainable program with predictable costs (a four-prong approach known as the Quadruple Aim).

Collectively, the Advancing NC Whole Health coalition is responsible for managing publicly funded behavioral health and intellectual/ developmental disabilities (IDD) services in three catchment areas that span North Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Together, they are responsible for managing more than $1.375 billion in public funds and 715,000 Medicaid covered lives across 53 counties.

“The partnership announced today with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan will expand our contribution to the health of more North Carolinians,” said Brian Ingraham, CEO of Vaya Health.

“Alliance Behavioral Healthcare is excited about this partnership as it will advance whole-person care for the specialized populations we have long served and for other North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Rob Robinson, Alliance CEO.

“The combined strength of our established provider networks and a shared commitment to using cutting-edge data and analytics and technology-enabled health services to integrate behavioral and physical care for individuals with behavioral health disorders, complex health needs, substance use disorders, and environmental challenges will be powerful for North Carolinians,” said Trillium CEO Leza Wainwright.

“Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, Trillium Health Resources and Vaya Health have strong roots in their respective communities and a long history of providing quality services to their members,” said Anita Bachmann, CEO of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina. “Our partnership will ease the transition to managed care for Medicaid members with behavioral health needs and promote the integration of physical health and pharmaceutical services.”

About the Coalition
Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, Trillium Health Resources and Vaya Health are local management entity/ managed care organizations (LME/MCOs) responsible for managing publicly-funded behavioral health and IDD services in three catchment areas that collectively span the State of North Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Together, they are responsible for managing more than $1.375 billion in public funds and 715,000 Medicaid covered lives across 53 counties. More information about the Coalition can be found at

About Alliance Behavioral Healthcare
Alliance Behavioral Healthcare is the managed care organization for publicly-funded behavioral healthcare services for the people of Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. Alliance works with a network of almost 2200 private providers to serve the needs of 471,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals within a total population of 1.8 million. Alliance operates an Access and Information Center available 24/7 at (800) 510-9132. Learn more at

About Trillium Health Resources
Trillium Health Resources is a leading specialty care manager (LME/MCO) for individuals with substance use, mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities in 26 counties in eastern North Carolina. Trillium’s mission is to transform the lives of people in need by providing them with ready access to quality care. We take a person-centered approach to health and wellbeing, coordinating care across multiple systems to achieve improved health outcomes, quality of care and efficient use of resources. Trillium is investing in innovation to meet the unique needs of the individuals and communities we serve, and remains focused on delivering the right services, in the right amount, at the right time. For more information, visit

About Vaya Health
Based in Asheville, N.C., Vaya Health manages public funds for mental health, substance use disorder and intellectual or developmental disability services in 23 western North Carolina counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. Access to care and crisis assistance are available 24/7 at 1-800-849-6127. Learn more at

About UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina, which covers more than 17,000 lives throughout the state, is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. UnitedHealthcare, which has served North Carolina for more than 20 years, offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

Alliance Seeking Applicants for Board Positions

The Alliance Board of Directors is seeking applicants for two open positions from Wake County and two from Johnston County who can advance Alliance’s vision to be a leader in transforming the delivery of whole person care in the public sector. Now is a critical time to make a difference in public behavioral healthcare as both the federal government and our state legislature consider how to design and fund critically important services for individuals in our communities.

Board member candidates must have a passion for helping people and the community at large. Individuals currently being sought with technical expertise in the following areas: health care administration, health care expertise and experience in the fields of mental health, intellectual or other developmental disabilities, or substance abuse services, financial expertise consistent with the scale and nature of Alliance, data analytics, statistics, IT strategy, attorney with health care expertise, public and/or government relations, business development expertise consistent with the scale and nature of Alliance, and insurance expertise consistent with the scale and nature of Alliance/managed care.

Employees or family members of employees or volunteers of provider agencies or vendors contracted with Alliance, or persons with a financial interest or ownership in any such agency or vendor, are not eligible to serve. For more information or to apply for membership, please visit

Board Audit and Compliance Committee Meeting Canceled

The Alliance Board Audit and Compliance Committee meeting scheduled for August 22 has been canceled.

Drug Deactivation Pouch Donation to Help Alliance Fight Opioid Epidemic

Alliance Behavioral Healthcare entered a unique partnership today with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals to make 30,000 drug deactivation pouches available across the four-county Alliance region in central North Carolina. These pouches will allow individuals to safely dispose of expired or unneeded medications, especially opioid pain medications and other narcotics, at home to prevent misuse, abuse and addiction. Each of the donated pouches can hold up to 45 pills, which means that if each pouch is used to maximum capacity, it would get rid of 1,350,000 unused, unneeded pills.

Four North Carolina cities are ranked in the top 20 nationally for opioid abuse, including one in the Alliance region. Research demonstrates that only one child in 20 who misuses prescription medications say they get them from a stranger, a drug dealer or the internet. Instead, two thirds of all people who misuse prescription medications get them from friends and family. These statistics underscore the importance of securing medications at home and properly disposing of leftover medications to prevent them from being misused.

These strategies and other simple steps all citizens can take to fight opioid misuse and addiction are featured on a website called Alliance For Action On Opioids ( The website also provides information about preventing overdose deaths with naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, and about recognizing the red flags of opioid misuse.

“At Alliance we’re approaching the opioid epidemic from multiple directions,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “We’ve expanded and improved the services that are available to people with addictions, and we’re addressing the social determinants of health – environmental factors that present barriers to people engaging and remaining in treatment and recovery, including housing, transportation, food security and education. We thank Mallinckrodt for this donation that will allow thousands of people we serve to safely dispose of dangerous medications before they get into the wrong hands.”

Robinson indicated that Alliance’s Care Management Division will oversee a strategic plan to distribute the pouches across Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. This will include routing of pouches to high-risk individuals by Alliance Care Coordinators, efforts by the Alliance Community Relations Department to share pouches as part of its outreach activities, and making donations to partner organizations that are also working to fight drug misuse.

This donation is part of Mallinckrodt’s two-million pouch donation initiative to help address one of the United States’ top public health threats – the abuse of prescription pain medications. The pouches use patented technology to neutralize the active ingredients in opioid painkillers and other organic drugs in pill, liquid and transdermal patch forms. Through proprietary-activated carbon bonds, the pouches help provide a safe and responsible medication disposal method, rendering the drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in any setting, preventing misuse of leftover prescription medication.

“As a company focused on the health and well-being of our patients and communities, Mallinckrodt has long been a strong advocate of addressing the complex issues of opioid misuse and abuse that cause so much harm,“ said Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt President and Chief Executive Officer. “We share the concerns of people across the nation, and believe that providing patients with a safe, environmentally responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight against prescription drug abuse. Mallinckrodt is committed to working with policy makers, community leaders, law enforcement and industry partners to ensure the responsible use of pain medication and prevent unused medications from ending up in the wrong hands.”

Wake County Representative Chris Malone spoke today about the North Carolina General Assembly’s plan for addressing the various aspects of the opioid epidemic.  “The General Assembly is fighting the opioid epidemic with an intentional multi-prong approach. In the STOP ACT we aimed to decrease the supply of prescribed opioids,” said Representative Malone. “The problem of safe disposal of unused medication is one that has plagued us for a very long time.  There are other programs, like the Take Back Program, and it does a great job but it’s just not widely enough accessible. Many medications cannot simply be disposed of by throwing them in the trash or down the toilet. We are so blessed that right here in House District 35 we have a company like Mallinckrodt that has been generous enough to help fight the opioid epidemic with a product that safely and conveniently disposes extra medications so they do not end up where they may be easy to access and abuse. It will take many initiatives like this to fight this horrible epidemic and we deeply appreciate their support of our local efforts.”

The pouches were developed and manufactured by Minneapolis-based Verde Technologies, which develops research-based, scientifically-proven solutions to reduce opioid abuse and misuse while reducing the environmental impact of the drug disposal process. For more information on the drug disposal pouches, please visit

A foundation for recovery: Alliance housing investment paying off

(Durham, NC) – As part of Alliance Behavioral Healthcare’s commitment to “Housing First, Housing Plus,” the principle of supportive housing as a platform for improving quality of life and a foundation for recovery, the organization has been busy forging new partnerships and exploring more opportunities to move people with complex needs from homelessness to housing … and help them stay there.

Those efforts are now showing good returns in terms of retention, improved outcomes and fewer visits to the emergency department by people served. In addition, through an investment of almost $5 million, Alliance has secured current and future access to 69 housing units.

The capital investments with private and non-profit housing developers include $750,000 from Alliance reinvestment funds and $4.2 million from Department of Justice grants. The money has secured 69 housing units with 20-year deed restrictions specifying that they be used by Alliance or its designee.

The inventory includes 28 units in Wake County, some of which are senior housing, and 41 units in Durham. Some of the investments are in new construction developments, the first of which will open at the end of August with occupancy scheduled for September 1.

In addition to Alliance’s investment partnerships, good outcomes are emerging from other partnerships, including a Health and Housing Program with Duke Health Systems and Resources for Human Development (RHD), and Bridge Housing at Harrington Place in partnership with Wake County and RHD.

The Health and Housing program serves people who are chronically homeless referred through two Duke outpatient clinics, with feeder sources in the ED. Through RHD, Alliance connects these people with housing and the supportive services they need to stay in that housing and manage their health conditions.

The initiative began in February 2017 and has housed 13 people who were classified as chronically homeless. Six people have remained in housing for 9-15 months.
One remarkable result of the initiative is that data provided by RHD show a 75 percent reduction in ED visits by people housed through the program. One person who has been housed through the program for nine months had accounted for 11 ED visits before being housed. After her first three months of housing, she has not been back to the ED at all.

“The Health and Housing program really illustrates the intersect between physical health and behavioral health and how important that is,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “This program has so much potential to be successful because it originates out of the hospital and the Duke outpatient clinics, and the physicians there really understand social determinants and the importance of housing.”

“The thing with housing is that you plant a seed and you really have to cultivate it,” said Ann Oshel, Alliance Senior Vice President, Community Relations. “And it takes time.”

“We spent a year trying to figure out the process of how we would identify the people, get the funding for the supportive housing case management and get the vouchers, and we are really starting to literally and figuratively see it pay off with all the people who are in and maintaining housing and not going to the ED,” Oshel said. “We had a couple of people who had crisis episodes but that’s almost what we want—let us know you before you have an episode so we can get you to the right place and then get you back home.”

Keeping people who are chronically homeless in housing can be a challenge, however, and it’s one reason Oshel now talks of moving people out of homelessness into housing “and beyond.” After finding a sense of community in homelessness or institutional care, many people can find housing, and the responsibilities that go along with it, to be a lonely and difficult experience.

“We focus a lot on moving people out of homelessness and trying to find a roof over their head, and I’m starting to think that’s the easy part,” Oshel said. “Keeping people engaged in services, helping them make friends and figure out how to navigate transportation, all that stuff is hugely difficult, overwhelming and complicated.”

The Bridge Housing program at Harrington Place in Wake County offers people with disabilities just what the name implies: a bridge between homelessness and being housed by providing a room in a group living setting, with many supports, including a case manager and peer support specialist.

“For a lot of people that in-between step is really important just so they can take a baby step to being on their own, learn a little bit more about what it’s going to be like, and get a little bit more used to maintaining even a small room,” Oshel said. “It has built-in supports while you’re there, so there is someone to check on you, someone to help you get connected to benefits, and you get a chance to practice your skills like how to cook and do laundry. For people who are very sick, they get a chance to learn to care for their conditions.”

The Bridge Housing program opened in March and has served 17 people, six of whom have moved on to permanent housing with a voucher. The facility has 12 units, and participants typically stay three to five months in the program. The 17 people who have come through the program represent 1,422 months of homelessness.

“We’re just starting to see what kind of difference it makes to give people a landing spot between homelessness and looking for housing,” Oshel said.

Meanwhile, Oshel and her staff continue to explore possibilities and expand the ways Alliance can move people from homelessness into housing and help them thrive there. “We’ve always got some ideas that we’re looking for the next great partnership on. For the moment, what we are really trying to focus on is what it means to really support someone in housing. How do we know that it has improved their quality of life? I believe that it does, and I believe that for some it’s so scary and overwhelming that it’s easier to go back to they have always known than to give it long enough. From our end we need to make sure that we really recognize what it takes. That’s why I say ‘from homelessness to housing and beyond.’”

Alliance is a public behavioral health managed care organization, or MCO, with responsibility for the authorization of services for almost 440,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals and a population of 1.8 million in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.

August 2018 Alliance InTouch newsletter now available

The August 2018 edition of the Alliance InTouch newsletter for Alliance employees, friends and community members is now available! Stay “in touch” with what is going on at Alliance and the important work we do to deliver the best care to the people we serve.

Read and download the Alliance InTouch newsletter.