Iris Addiction Recovery for Women offers residential addictions treatment programs for women, as well as a parenting outreach program, addictions supportive housing and substance abuse workers in Health Sciences North's emergency department.
But soon these two organizations, which have served Greater Sudbury for decades, will be no more. Urged on by the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), they're in the process of amalgamating.
Also thrown into the mix is the Salvation Army New Life Centre, which provides residential addictions treatment and community living programs for men.
While New Life will remain a separate organization, it will be contracted by the newly merged agency to provide services. Previously, New Life received funds directly from the North East LHIN, just as Iris and Rockhaven do.
Kathryn Irwin-Seguin, the interim CEO for the new organization as well as for Iris, said representatives of all three organizations met with a consultant last fall to explore amalgamation.
While the North East LHIN approved the changes Aug. 22, Irwin-Seguin said she figures it will take until the end of March to have all the paperwork finalized.
She said a transition advisory board with representation from all three groups as well as from the community begin meeting this month.
One of the board's tasks will be to come up with a new name and mission statement.
Irwin-Seguin said the treatment programs were nudged to amalgamate by the North East LHIN, but the trio had been “flirting” with the idea for some time. By having just one CEO and finance manager, Iris and Rockhaven will be able to save funds, for example, Irwin-Seguin said.
“Plus, it's quite often that we have one half of a couple in our site and then the other half is either at Rockhaven or Salvation Army,” she said.
“So there were some opportunities then to start doing couples program or family programming or things like that. We just thought there was a lot of synergies that could take place, and new programs could come out of it.”
Irwin-Seguin said she's “very excited” to see what comes out of these changes.
“We're hoping to become a centre of excellence,” she said. “We think this is an excellent opportunity for clients to get better service. There will be less moving from one agency to the next.”
Rockhaven board president Richard Picard said in a press release the integration plan is a “critical step in consolidating resources and unifying the efforts of board members, staff and volunteers.”
His words are echoed by Major Mike Hennessy, executive director of the New Life Centre.
“This integration ... unifies the efforts of all our services towards enhancing residential addiction services,” he said.
North East LHIN board director Santina Marasco said she applauds the move, saying the merger means more front line care for clients.
“This is a great example of putting people first,” she said.