Be­hav­ioral health groups eye merger

Youth Bridge, Mis­souri com­pany an­nounce plan

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Northwest Arkansas - DOUG THOMP­SON

FAYET­TEVILLE — Youth Bridge, a be­hav­ioral health non­profit group based in Fayet­teville, and Bur­rell Be­hav­ioral Health of western Mis­souri have an­nounced their in­ten­tion to merge.

The com­pa­nies should have a com­pleted agree­ment by late April af­ter fi­nan­cial due dili­gence mea­sures are com­plete, the com­pa­nies an­nounced in a joint state­ment Thurs­day. Due dili­gence mea­sures are fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures each party in a merger must give each other by law, in­clud­ing a list of as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties.

Youth Bridge’s rev­enue for fis­cal 2016, which ended June 30, 2017, was $9.5 mil­lion and its net in­come was $338,228, ac­cord­ing to its non­profit tax form filed with IRS. Bur­rell Be­hav­ioral Health is a for-profit cor­po­ra­tion and is pri­vately held.

Di­rec­tors of each of the com­pa­nies noted mu­tual ben­e­fits of the merger for their com­pa­nies and for the wider trends in be­hav­ioral health as rea­sons for the move.

“Through­out our field, we’ve seen re­duced fund­ing and changes in man­aged care,” Dar­ryl Rhoda, pres­i­dent of Youth Bridge, said Thurs­day. “The sit­u­a­tion is made worse by wage in­fla­tion, par­tic­u­larly in our re­gion, and the ex­plo­sion in the pop­u­la­tion need­ing our ser­vices.”

C.J. Davis, pres­i­dent of Bur­rell, echoed Rhoda on Fri­day.

“You can have all the fund­ing in the world, and you still wouldn’t have enough be­hav­ioral health work­ers,” he said.

Go­ing for economies of scale is the best op­tion, he

said. For in­stance, Bur­rell has 120 psy­chi­a­trists who can ap­ply for dual cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to prac­tice in Arkansas if the merger goes through, he said.

Youth Bridge has wide ex­pe­ri­ence in pro­vid­ing coun­sel­ing and other ser­vices in schools, an area where Bur­rell is ex­pand­ing rapidly, both pres­i­dents said. Youth Bridge is pri­mar­ily, though not ex­clu­sively, fo­cused on youth while Bur­rell has more ex­pe­ri­ence in adult ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to Rhoda. The ser­vice ar­eas of the two com­pa­nies also ad­join.

“We have some clients in Mis­souri who can be bet­ter served by go­ing to Youth Bridge lo­ca­tions in Arkansas,” Davis said. “It will be eas­ier for them.”

Youth Bridge took over many clients who used to go to Pre­ferred Fam­ily Health­care fa­cil­i­ties. Pre­ferred Fam­ily lost its li­cense to prac­tice in Arkansas af­ter a bribery and Med­i­caid fraud scan­dal came to light last year.

The merger would make it eas­ier to han­dle the in­crease in Youth Bridge’s caseload, Rhoda said. Bur­rell is based in Spring­field, Mo., and so is Pre­ferred Fam­ily, but the two com­pa­nies aren’t af­fil­i­ated, ac­cord­ing to both Rhoda and Davis.

Youth Bridge and Bur­rell serve about 45,000 clients be­tween them, the com­pa­nies’ state­ment said.

Bur­rell was founded in 1977 and op­er­ates in 17 Mis­souri coun­ties. Youth Bridge was es­tab­lished in 1963 in Winslow and pro­vides ser­vices to Bax­ter, Ben­ton, Boone, Car­roll, Marion, Madi­son, New­ton and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties.

File Photo/NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Nancy Hairston (right), di­rec­tor of devel­op­ment for Youth Bridge, and Karen Gray, vice pres­i­dent for mar­ket­ing for Ar­vest, pack clothes to be do­nated to Youth Bridge in May 2014, at the bank on the Fayet­teville square. Youth Bridge, a be­hav­ioral health non­profit group based in Fayet­teville, and Bur­rell Be­hav­ioral Health of western Mis­souri have an­nounced an in­ten­tion to merge.

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