Creating a strong direction is among major goals being undertaken by Ron Stromberg, Davis Behavioral Health’s executive director for the past 2-1/2 months.
The two-decades plus Bountiful resident brings many years of experience in human services, and leadership of large organizations, to the job.
“Several times in my career I have stopped to build up an organization where it was needed,” he said.
Stromberg started his career many years ago as superintendent of the old Industrial School in Ogden, which served as a detention facility for young men.
Along the way, he has held key roles, or led several of the state’s human service agencies, including the old Division of Youth Corrections, which he created, now called Juvenile Justice. He later became director of the Office of Social Services and director of the Adult Division of Protective Services, among others.
“I have worked with almost every aspect of human services, adults and children, was even over the public welfare system,” Stromberg said.
But now, he has firmly set his sights on helping guide DBH, an agency with about 190 full-time equivalent staff and a yearly budget of about $200 million.
“We have a lot of buildings, and are really spread out,” he said. “We need to look at a good facilities plan.”
For instance, should programs still be housed in three separate old homes?
“What do we need to consolidate? Where do we need a presence? We can’t have every program both in the north and south ends of the county. It’s now spread all over. What do we need at a central location?” Stromberg said must be addressed.
“We are a private, nonprofit entity. We have some parcels that maybe we could sell,” he said, especially in touch financial times for largely state-funded agencies.
A legislative “funding backfill,” including federal stimulus money, helped reduce some of the cuts that had been proposed for this year, Stromberg said. But there’s still the coming fiscal year, which starts July of 2010, to deal with.
It’s also “very difficult to plan” in terms of funding for some programs, he said, with uncertainty on Medicaid and other cuts possible.
Ultimately, “the only way to get Medicaid reimbursement is through staff providing services,” Stromberg said. “If we can’t get customers through the door, we’re not meeting people’s expectations.”
Several independent entities that were created during the previous DBH administration have been done away with, he emphasized, with audits by a variety of agencies, including Davis County, also conducted.
“Diversified Employment Opportunities (DEO) is no longer separate, but part of DBH,” Stromberg said. “We want to move customers there into a true, supported employment program.”
That may mean expanding job training opportunities into the community, such as helping a client/customer gain experience to eventually become a bank teller.
“We need to improve our services to youth and for substance abuse,” Stromberg said.
“Accountability” of the agency, and others, has become far more important, Stromberg said, adding, “We have to be able to demonstrate that a treatment works.”
“He’s brought a lot of instant stability, credibility to the organization,” said County Commission Chair Bret Millburn, who sits on the DBH board of directors.
DBH is a quasi-independent agency which is contracted to serve Davis County. It is overseen ultimately by the county commission.
“From everything I’ve been able to ascertain, he has DBH moving in a very positive direction,” Millburn said. “He brings to the position just a wealth of experience from a variety of different directions.”