Staff criticizes Crossroads Community Services

Published 8:07 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Two staff members publicly expressed contempt to the Crossroads Community Services Board about the agency Tuesday, citing grave concerns about its operation and services to clients following the termination of four employees.

Mary Jackson, a senior child and adolescent case manager who has worked for the agency for over 16 years, said there was a “huge divide” at the agency, said she was “quite embarrassed,” calling the reduction in workforce “a farce.”

Jackson was one of about 19 people in the audience at the meeting. Only Jackson and Nellie Parrish, a mental health and substance abuse therapist, spoke during the board’s public comment portion of the meeting.

Parrish, who’s been with the agency for about eight years, said that productivity had decreased, job responsibilities and performance expectations were unclear and “the work environment is chaotic, toxic and hostile.”

She said that since the four were terminated, two programs had ceased at the agency. Dr. Susan Baker, the agency’s executive director, terminated four employees on Jan. 20, calling the action “a reduction in force.”

According to the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), the move violated a state regulation — failing to notify the DBHDS before implementing changes in the organization’s structure.

The terminations prompted an investigation by the state agency, which began Jan. 21 and ending on Feb. 11, according to an investigation finding report from the department’s office of licensing. “This regulation was not met as evidence by: the provider terminated the following senior positions in the Farmville clinic: director of long term services, nursing supervisor, substance abuse coordinator and administrative supervisor and failed to notify the department, in writing, prior to implementing the changes,” the report stated.

After meeting in closed session for over an hour regarding personnel, real estate and consultation with legal counsel or staff, the board only took action on a real estate matter. Board Chairman Sid Smyth — who is also Parrish’s father — wouldn’t offer comment on the employee’s remarks.

“Our current leadership is in direct conflict with our ability to provide adequate, quality care,” Parrish told the board. “We do not live in a world where inadequate mental health services are acceptable or safe,” she said, referencing the mass shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“On behalf of the numerous crossroads employees, the 4,000-plus individuals we serve and the 103,129 citizens (who) reside in our catchment area, we hold you 100-percent accountable for the potential catastrophic consequences of your negligence.”

“I think Susan Baker needs to be terminated,” Parrish said after the meeting, “and I think the board needs very extensive training in ways to be more proactive and more educated on the policies and procedures of the agency and the day-to-day functioning. …”