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North Side counseling service averts shutdown with county partnership

A major provider of mental health services to poor North Siders that had been set to close at the end of the month will stay open through a partnership with Cook County Health and Hospitals System, the group announced Friday.

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, which serves about 10,000 people through five clinics, will now provide mental health services to people enrolled in CountyCare, the county’s Medicaid health plan.

The majority of the center’s services help children with trauma, abuse and behavior problems, according to the center’s 2013 annual report. The group also provides adult care, including substance-abuse treatment.

In April, the group’s President and CEO Eileen Durkin told the Sun-Times the center was closing May 31 after a glitch in the way the records and billing systems were linked. The glitch prevented the counseling centers, also known as “C4,” from sending out bills for six weeks last fall. In announcing the closure, Durkin said she hoped other mental health organizations could take C4’s patients, a hope critics called unrealistic.

CountyCare is a countywide no-cost health plan launched as part of the expansion of Medicaid that came with the Affordable Care Act. The more than 180,000 current enrollees receive care at 30 hospitals and 130 primary care facilities.

C4 will continue serving its current patients, while adding people enrolled in CountyCare who need mental health treatment, according to a news release.

Durkin told staff last week that C4’s leadership was in talks to be acquired by another organization.

“This comes at a critical time for our consumers and our employees,” Durkin said in the release.

Besides expanding C4′s client base, the partnership “provides the stability we need to serve our current consumers, as well as continuing to be able to support our dedicated employees,” Durkin said.

CountyCare launched in 2013 and is currently the second-largest Medicaid health plan in the county, the release said.

“We have to build a network of providers commensurate with that growth,” Dr. John Jay Shannon, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, said in the release.