Thompson merger targets expansion

By Todd Cohen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — They both began, in 1850 and 1886, as orphanages of the Episcopal dioceses in South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively.

They both operate residential campuses and out-patient clinics that serve children with mental health challenges, particularly those rooted in early trauma that typically is sexual in nature, as well as their families.

And they both see a need to expand to serve unmet needs throughout the two states, provide a continuum of services ranging from therapeutic residential care to in-home support, and equip themselves to work with sweeping changes in the regulation of health care delivery that increasingly will be driven by market forces and require economies of scale.

The convergence of their roots, their services and their goals now have led Thompson Child & Family Focus in Matthews , N.C., and York Place in York, S.C., to agree to merge by mid-April.

“Given the changes in the human services landscape and health care industry in general, both agencies are really determined to build scale that creates professional excellence and credibility so we can partner with managed care organizations to serve wounded and broken children and families,” says Ginny Amendum, who is retiring as president of Thompson.

Marco Tomat, who is CEO of York Place and will succeed Amendum as president of the merged agency, says health care, which now will be overseen by entities known as “managed care organizations,” will require “service providers such as us to have a strong regional presence and infrastructure to be able to navigate all the new policies and, possibly and in my hope, new and abundant customers.”

Thompson employs over 300 people, operates with an annual budget of $17.7 million, and served over 12,000 children and families across North Carolina last year from its three campuses.

York Place employs 70 people, operates with a budget of $5.2 million, is located on a 120-acre campus, and served 300 children and families last year.

Thompson has worked for over 10 years to develop an “integrated continuum of services” that include both prevention and intervention programs and are focused in Cabarrus, Union and Mecklenburg counties, Amendum says.

And York Place has worked to expand its services to underserved regions of South Carolina, she says.

With unmet needs in both states, she says, the merged organization will build on the two agencies’ combined experience and expertise to find opportunities to expand through partnerships that build the “capacity” to provide more community-based services that are “supported by well-educated, clinically certified staff.”

Thompson already has formed a partnership to serve as the clinical arm for Boys & Girls Homes of North Carolina in Lake Waccamaw, she says, while York Place has contracted with the Fort Mill School District to assist with school therapy.

The merger also should appeal to foundations and other funding organizations, Amendum says.

Funders, she says, are “looking for agencies willing to partner or merge in an effort to build stronger business and service capacity.”

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