Closing North Side mental health provider in talks to be acquired

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Eileen Durkin, president and CEO of Community Counseling Centers of Chicago

A major provider of mental health services to poor people on the North Side is in talks to be acquired by another organization after announcing it would be shutting its doors May 31, according to the group’s CEO.

Eileen Durkin, president and CEO of Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, told staff Thursday the center’s leadership has been “in discussions regarding the acquisition of C4 in its entirety,” according to a memo obtained by the Sun-Times.

“If this happens, consumers will continue to receive their services here at C4 without any interruption. . . . Discussions are steadily and quickly moving, and we are quite hopeful will provide us with a specific path forward over the next week,” Durkin wrote.

The group serves more than 10,000 people in five clinics, according to its website.

Children receive half of the center’s services, which include help for dealing with trauma, abuse and behavior problems, according to the center’s 2013 annual report. The group also provides care for adults and people with substance-abuse problems.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services disputed C4’s claim the group serves 10,000 clients, saying that number includes people who were treated more than once.

The annual “unduplicated count” of people served is about 5,300, the spokeswoman said.

Because of confidentiality agreements, Durkin told staff she couldn’t discuss which organizations are interested in taking over the center.

The CEO confirmed C4’s closing April 24, saying the group was discussing the transfer of clients to other mental health programswith a number of state agencies.

If an acquisition isn’t possible, C4 will work with state and community agencies to find help for the clients, Durkin wrote Thursday.

But the announcement of C4’s closure comes as lawmakers debate Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposals to slash $82 million from mental health programs, potentially making the transfer of clients to state programs without interruption to their care more difficult.

After the April announcement, Amy Watson, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work, told the Sun-Times the transfer of patients was “not realistic.”

“The other agencies don’t really have the capacity to absorb anymore clients and for some people that means going outside of their community,” Watson said.

Durkin attributed the closure to a six-week period last fall during which a glitch in the center’s medical records and billing system prevented bills from going out, essentially cutting off the group’s cash flow.

The group receives state and federal funding, donations, grants and fees from Medicaid and Medicare, according to its annual report and tax records.

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