Santa Rosa, CA – November 26, 2018 – The Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) selected Bill Carter, LCSW, as its new Behavioral Health Division Director after a competitive recruitment process.
Carter, a state recognized expert in mental health, brings a wealth of experience from Napa County, where he served the past four years as the Mental Health Director of the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency. He was the agency’s compliance officer the four years prior.
“I am eager and excited at the opportunity to work in Sonoma County. I believe in the work that our behavioral health clinicians do every day and will seek opportunities to enhance the system of care through operational and fiscal supports to ultimately better serve our clients and community”, said Carter.
Carter has more than 30 years of experience in mental health and social services programming as a provider and administrator for both private and public sectors. He was an administrator at the California Institute for Mental Health (CIMH) from 1998 to 2010, designing and implementing program improvements and leading efforts to circulate evidence-based practices in the field.
Carter’s appointment comes at a critical time for the evolving division, which recently began to bill for Medicare claims again to increase revenue as part of a commitment to maintain the quality of care in Sonoma County while improving sustainability. Additionally, in October, the Division finished moving its behavioral health programs to a single location in Santa Rosa, known as the Behavioral Health Campus, to allow for coordinated services. The director will provide oversight as the Behavioral Health Division continues to redesign a number of operational initiatives, per a June pledge from the Division.
The Behavioral Health Division’s work does not end with the selection of Carter, said Barbie Robinson, director of DHS. The County, which has been working to improve access to inpatient psychiatric beds in Sonoma, recently approved a $500,000 investment from the Board of Supervisors toward establishing a psychiatric health facility. The Department is currently negotiating with a provider to operate the facility.
Beyond resuming Medicare billing, co-locating programs, and establishing a psychiatric health facility, the Department has other operational goals planned in the near future. Together these efforts make progress on the Division’s commitment to redesigning its behavioral health system.
“The facility will help fill a long-standing gap in the County’s mental health system of care and greatly improve access in a County in dire need of the inpatient services,” said Robinson. “Bill is coming in at an important stage as we advance toward improving the quality of behavioral health services, while maintaining long-term viability.”
Sonoma County Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane said she was pleased Carter accepted the role with the Behavioral Health Division.
“Bill is a strong leader and administrator with a proven track record, so this is a great win for us,” said Zane, a County mental health advocate. “I am quite certain his steady leadership can drive us toward operating and managing the highest performing mental health plan and helping to design and administer the strongest substance use disorder system of care for the most vulnerable residents in our county. This is critical to achieve mental health parity.”