Signature Health-Connections/ ORCA House Linkage

Signature Health, Connections and ORCA House are pleased to announce the completion of all discussions and execution of all documents pertaining to the permanent linkage of the three organizations.

This linkage will occur in two phases.  In the first phase, effective January 1, 2017, Signature Health will become the parent organization of both Connections and ORCA House.  Jonathan Lee, the President and CEO of Signature Health will assume the same roles for both Connections and ORCA House.  Later in the year, the three organizations will merge into one single entity.

Connections and ORCA House have been operating as a partnership since January 1, 2015, with a common management and common board.

Founded by Jonathan Lee in 1993, Signature Health was originally inspired by personal experience and recognition of the needs specific to people affected by broad range of mental illness classifications including substance abuse. Starting with a small office in Euclid Ohio, Signature Health has expanded with locations in Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula Counties.  Child, adolescent and adult services have expanded to include behavioral health, primary medical care, lab services, opiate treatment and pharmacy.  Signature Health employees over 350 medical, clinical, nursing, case managers and administrative staff.

“With Esther Pla, the President and CEO, of Connections retiring and Signature Health looking to expand the timing could not have been better,” said Jonathan Lee.  “I have always had the utmost respect for Ester and the wonderful work she has accomplished over the years so when she reached out to me about linking the agencies it made a great deal of sense”.   

Connections having two locations in Cuyahoga County and Signature Health with locations in Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula Counties will result in the delivery of excellent outpatient services from Cleveland to the Pennsylvania border.

The combined agencies offer outpatient programs that provide a range of psychiatric, counseling, case management, addiction treatment, integrated medicine along with lab and pharmacy services.  As the linkage process continues, more services will be added.

With the merging of the offices there will be a combined staff of over 500.

For more information contact Paul Brickman, Director of Marketing…440.953.9999

New Access Point Grant

Signature Health has been awarded a New Access Point Grant of $812,500.

Jonathan Lee, CEO of Signature Health, announced today that Signature Health was designated as an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) today. In an email to the staff, Mr. Lee said “I can’t explain how proud I am of everything that you have done to reach this accomplishment”…. “This is a game changer, we will now be able to help our clients in so many more ways”.

On December 15, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded over $50 Million for new center sites.

Signature Health Willoughby was one of 75 grantee’s in the United States and one of only 4 in Ohio. What this means is that beginning January 1, 2017, Signature Health will become an FQHC. These health centers are community-based and patient directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services. Along with this, Signature Health, will continue to offer integrated access to mental health, substance abuse, pharmacy, and oral health services.

Signature Health will be the essential medical home where clients will find services that promote health and diagnosis and treat disease and disabilities. This grant will provide care to indigent patients.

Congratulations Amber Mehalic

Please join us in congratulating Amber Mehalic for her new position with Signature Health! 

Upon her return from maternity leave, Amber will be filling the RN intake coordinator position. Amber has demonstrated excellent nursing knowledge and a great capacity to multi-task and keep schedules organized. 

Welcome, Amber!

Manners Christmas Tree Farm

The wonderful people at Manners Christmas Tree Farm donated six trees to our boys at Paul's House for the Christmas season! The boys helped decorate each one, spreading the joy of the holiday.

Ashtabula Christmas Parade

Signature Health participated once again in the Downtown Ashtabula Christmas Parade. The Paul's House Van was decorated by the youth and staff, and were a great help in handing out bags of candy to the walkers to distribute. Main Avenue was packed with people! We also have patients' art decorated in the windows facing Main Avenue and, thanks to our newest employee Ron Bowers, the Christmas decorations are up throughout the building!

Director of Addiction Medicine

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Richard DeFranco, an addiction medicine specialist, will be joining Signature Health in the role of clinician and Director of Addiction Medicine. Dr. DeFranco, a graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, completed a fellowship in addiction medicine at University Hospitals in 2007. He has worked in the community as an addiction specialist since that time, most recently at Community Action Against Addiction (CAAA) in Cleveland. Dr. DeFranco has experience in treating pregnant women with addiction, in addition to providing group therapy.

Dr. Franco will be with us 4 days (32 hours) per week: Mondays in Willoughby, Tuesdays and Fridays in Garfield Heights, and Thursdays in Ashtabula. In addition to seeing patients, he will be providing guidance and leadership to our MAT Program and addiction treatment services. He will be completing orientation the week of Nov 14 before transitioning into his new role. For those involved in the MAT Program who will be attending this Friday's workshop, you will have the opportunity to meet Dr. DeFranco.

We are looking forward to working with Dr. Franco to build and advance our addiction program.

Ashtabula Office Director

As of August 2016, Signature Health in Ashtabula promoted a new Office Director, Mihaela Burtea. Mihaela started working at Signature Health in 2003, working with patients in the Partial Hospitalization Program, and has been a Registered Nurse for 16 years, bringing a great mix of skills and experience to her job. She is humble, kind-hearted, and hard working.

“I just like to help people,” she says with a smile on her face. Mihaela’s friends and coworkers say she is a nurse with a social worker’s heart.

Originally from a small village in Romania, eight miles from Dracula’s Castle, Mihaela is very proud of sharing her heritage. She was going to college for International Economics in Romania before coming to the United States. She graduated from Kent State University in 2000 with her RN degree. Coming full circle, Mihaela is currently enrolled at Urseline College for a Masters in Business Program for Healthcare Management. She hopes that her experience at Signature Health and what she learns at Urseline will complement each other in her growth, personally and professionally.

“I like people to grow, personally and professionally,” Mihaela says. “And I hope to have a role in the personal and professional growth of staff here. I believe we all work for the same team, and that is ‘team patient.’ We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the patients.” She knew through school that she wanted to be in the mental health field, to help those who needed treatment and who needed support to turn their lives around.

Mental health and substance abuse are the most stigmatized illnesses in today’s world, and Mihaela strives to be a role in breaking that stigma with patients. “I’m really happy I got to work with patients in the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP),” she explains. “It gave me a whole new understanding about mental illness. Seeing the patients every day and seeing the progress they make, just how much it can give them a different perspective on things.”

“I love Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s most rewarding when patients come up to you and say, ‘I had a hard time yesterday but I remembered what you said to me.’ It made a difference.” Mihaela says that the future of Signature Health is the staff and the patients, all the crayons in the coloring box. We may not like all the colors, but we must use them all to paint a beautiful picture together to give the best care to our patients.

“I just love people,” she exclaims. Mihaela will surely succeed in all of life’s challenges and what lies ahead. Her beautiful soul and optimism will play a big part in her future of working with us at Signature Heath and beyond.