Culture change coming to county Behavioral Health Department
Terence "Terry" Rooney brings a drive for creating a culture where staff ideas are valued and research-based programs are paramount.
While the new director of the Colusa County Department of Behavioral Health is still getting his bearings, Rooney has already identified that the county is eligible for a federal program that helps increase health professionals in areas that have a shortage.
Colusa has been certified as a shortage area for eight years and could take advantage of the program that brings licensed clinical staff to areas in need. Nurses, for example, who commit to serving in direct service roles in Colusa County, can have their tuitions forgiven.
Rooney would also like to help develop more evidence-based practices, which the department doesn't have. Evidence-based programs are well-researched and documented programs that target a specific population and have proven results, Rooney said.
An example that he would like to see is an 18-week, parent-child interactive therapy program.
During the program, parents who need to improve their skills, interact with their children in a room with a two-way mirror. The parent wears an ear piece through which a therapist can communicate advice and direction in how to interact with the child.
A therapist might say, "try to encourage that behavior" for example, Rooney said.
These programs have been proven to work, said Rooney. If the department can create these programs they can provide them as options to the judge in a court decision to reunify a family.
Rooney started with the department on Feb. 25 and is the former deputy director of Mental Health in Lake County. Prior to that, he worked in mental health and drug and alcohol treatment, both in the private and public sectors.
His experience in organizational development may provide him with the kind of leadership and skills in fostering change within organizations that could benefit a department that has had issues with disgruntled employees.
Rooney said he wants to foster a culture of consistency and fairness, that values good manners and the ideas and strategies developed by the people working closest to the patients.
Those staff members, he said, have good ideas that provide better deliverables and success rates than programs that are developed by someone in an office more distant from the patients. The former, are often more difficult to implement.
"Culture is very important. If you simplify what culture means, it means how things are done here. What are the correct procedures," said Rooney.
"I'm coming into a staff that is very hungry for leadership."
Colusa County Supervisor Tom Indrieri is the board liaison to the department and said that he is pleased to have someone who is experienced and dedicated.
"We need a leader who can guide us through these challenging times and I believe he is the person to do it," said Indrieri.
Rooney holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and organizational psychology from the Professional School of Psychology in San Francisco.