Local Woman Awarded for Helping Others through Recovery

Her work in Peer Support proves everyone wins when working together against mental illness and addiction

Living with addiction and mental illness is not easy. Nobody needs to do it alone. Through Peer Support programs, people strengthen their own substance use and mental health recovery by guiding others dealing with similar issues. Peers are making recovery a movement.

Patty Schaeffer of Cleveland County, NC received a state Recovery Champion Award for years of professional and volunteer service promoting mental health and substance use recovery. She was nominated by her professional and personal recovery colleague, Stephanie Rhodes, Director of Peer Support Services, Mental Health Association in Greensboro.

“As a mental health professional, I realize the heart and the passion that working in this field requires,” said Rhodes. “Patty not only shares that heart, but is also the picture of hard work, dedication, transparency, advocacy, and co-occurring recovery.”

Working for Recovery

Along with leading a recovery-oriented, peer-operated North Carolina nonprofit organization, teaching Peer Support classes, and serving on various committees and boards, Patty is currently the chair of Partners Behavioral Health Management’s Consumer and Family Advisory Committee. The advisory committee includes volunteers who have received or currently receive services, or are family members of these consumers. They advocate for consumers and their families in every aspect of planning and delivering services for mental health, intellectual or developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and substance use. The committee also advises Partners and the state on improving policies and service effectiveness. See the full list of Patty’s activities in substance use and mental health recovery below.

Pictured with Patty Schaeffer (middle) after receiving the award, are Jim Harrison, Conference Planning Committee (right), and Stephanie Rhodes, Director of Peer Support Services, Mental Health Association in Greensboro. (left). The 9th Annual NC ‘One Community in Recovery’ Conference award ceremony was held on November 9, 2017, in Clemmons, NC.


  • Received a Volunteer Service Award for Cleveland County
  • Received a Bridge Builders Award from Mayor Philbeck of Shelby, NC
  • Led Disaster Relief and formed a local “Adopt a Community” program
  • Became a lifetime member of the National Safety Professionals Association
  • Serves as Executive Director of WellSurgent: a non-profit organization
  • Certified as a Peer Support Specialist through North Carolina’s Peer Support Specialist Program


  • Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (Partners Behavioral Health Management)—Chair
  • State Consumer and Family Advisory Committee—Member
  • Human Services Technology Developmental Disabilities Program (Gaston College)—Board Member
  • Veterans & Families Coalition NC—Secretary
  • Leadership Fellows Academy—Fellow
  • Alcoholics Anonymous women’s retreat in Old Fort NC—Chair
  • Cleveland Adult Collaborative for MH/SUD/IDD&TBI—Vice Chair
  • Peer Support Learning Coalition: “Peers to Pearls”—Chair


  • 12 Step Medicine Wheel Elder of Alcoholics Anonymous for the Native American
  • Mental Health First Aid Instructor for adult and youth mental health
  • Question, Persuade, Refer Instructor for suicide prevention training
  • SMART® Recovery Facilitator leading self-empowering addiction recovery support groups
  • WRAP® Advanced Level Facilitator for creating a self-designed prevention and wellness tool

Join the Recovery Movement

To see how you can help yourself, another person, or a community recover, learn more about becoming a peer through the NC Certified Peer Support Specialist Program, different ways to become an advocate, and the peer-operated nonprofit organization WellSurgent.

What is Health Care Fraud Really Costing You?

The price of health care fraud is overwhelming. The National Conference of State Legislators assessed financial loss to Medicaid programs to be billions of dollars a year. Medicaid provides medical care for low-income people, often consisting of children, the elderly, and the medically fragile.

The small number of people who commit health care fraud could put you at risk. Fraudsters often bill insurance companies for more treatment than you, as a patient, might need or receive. They may also submit false claims that max out your insurance benefits, causing the insurance company to refuse to pay for treatment when you are sick. Some providers may add false or dangerous information to medical records to justify charging more than they need to. In the most serious cases, unscrupulous providers may intentionally perform unnecessary surgeries or other harmful treatments on patients who were not actually ill, so they could bill for unnecessary, expensive procedures.

Fraudulent behavior causes public mistrust of healthcare providers, and discourages people from getting treatment. Examples of fraudulent providers are often used to justify cuts to Medicaid programs. Most providers offer excellent, medically necessary care. Fraud drives up operating costs for honest health care professionals, making it more difficult for them to remain in the community to provide safe and affordable health care.

The Partners BHM Program Integrity Department is charged with combatting healthcare fraud, waste, and abuse in the NC Medicaid program. We count on the community to help us be on the lookout for fraudsters so we can continue to protect patient safety, your tax dollars, and guarantee Medicaid providers offer quality services.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of healthcare fraud, or think someone may have engaged in fraudulent behavior, call the confidential Partners Fraud Alert Line at 1-866-806-8777, or report online at https://partnersbhm.alertline.com.

Partners Awarded $4 Million Grant for Youth Mental Health Services

GASTONIA—Children and families in Burke, Gaston, Iredell, and Lincoln Counties will have more resources to assist with behavioral and physical health care needs thanks to a grant awarded to Partners Behavioral Health Management (Partners).

Partners is the only North Carolina recipient of one of nine grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Expansion and Sustainability of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program, also known as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) distributes funding to improve outcomes for children, youth and young adults who experience serious emotional disturbances and their families. The grant will provide $1 million per year over four years to add new mental health resources for children and families residing in four counties in the Partners’ service area.

“This is an exciting opportunity that allows us to partner with and truly impact the lives of children and families living with behavioral and emotional health needs,” said Martha Kaufman, Partners’ Integrated Care Director. “Families will be able to access healthcare, support, training, and other resources through one team that is dedicated to positively improving their quality of life.”

The program, known as the “Partners NC System of Care Expansion Grant,” builds upon two of Partners’ initiatives:

  1. System of Care, a nationally-known program that brings child and family serving agencies together with the family to develop and implement services in the child’s best interest.
  2. Partners’ innovative Whole Person Integrated Care model, which combine behavioral care, physical care, and peer support functions in one setting.

The program will serve children and families through area pediatric medicine and community partnerships by offering parenting classes, care coordination, and family and youth peers to assist families. Partners will work closely with the NC Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services and NC Families United in support of grant implementation.

Partners and other community partners will begin implementing the program in Gaston and Lincoln Counties in spring 2018. The program will be offered in Burke and Iredell counties starting in 2019.

Enrollee Navigator

Be an Advocate: Making Policies and Services Better

One of your most important rights and responsibilities is to recommend changes.

You have many ways to help make changes to Partners’ and public health policies, and changes to services or service availability. Here are some common options for you be involved in change.

Attend or Join a Partners Committee

Attend a Partners Board Meeting

Meeting information can be found at https://www.partnersbhm.org/partners-board-directors/

Submit a formal compliment, concern, or complaint, called a grievance

Visit https://www.partnersbhm.org/grievances-and-appeals/ and choose the submission method you prefer.

Join a Community Organization 

  • The ARC North Carolina – promotes and protects the human rights of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities – http://arcnc.org
  • NAMI NC (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – provides support, education, advocacy, and public awareness so that all affected by mental illness can build better lives – https://naminc.org/
  • Mental Health America of the South Mountains – promote mental health in our community through education, advocacy, and support – http://www.mhasouthmountains.org/

Other ways to be heard

There many other organizations and opportunities for making change in the lives of those living with behavioral health issues. And many international and national organizations have state and local chapters. Visit the Be Involved web page and the local meetings and support groups web page for more ideas.

In the Community 

Child and Family Team: Part 1

Part 1 of Child and Family Team training will be held on January 18 and 19, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at First Plaza Building, First Floor Conference Room, 1985 Tate Boulevard SE, Hickory, NC. “An Introduction to Child and Family Teams: A Cross System Training from the Family’s Perspective” is a two-day, experiential training with a goal of providing an overview of Child and Family Team meetings from the family’s perspective. The training seeks to reinforce the idea of “one family, one plan” by addressing Child and Family Teams through the lens of multiple systems as they affect families in their everyday lives. Agency representatives and parents and family members over 18 years of age are encouraged to attend this free training. Register online by Monday, January 15. Sessions must have a minimum of 10 participants. For more information contact Kim Rhoads at 828-323-8049 or krhoads@partnersbhm.org.

Connect Burke Resource Forum

You are invited to an afternoon of networking, learning, sharing, and refreshments. The next quarterly Burke County resource forum is Tuesday, January 16, from 1-3 p.m. at the Foothills Higher Education Center-Room 163, 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC (enter on the side of the building closest to Zaxbys restaurant).  The forum keynote Presentation is “When the Opioid Epidemic Impacts Newborns and Their Families,” by Libby Dolen, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge. Twelve agencies serving families affected by the opioid epidemic will give presentations. Register online by Friday, January 12. Connect Burke Resource Forums are sponsored by Partners Behavioral Health Management.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family Class

This is a free course for families, partners, and friends of individuals with mental illness. Participants will learn about mental illness and the best ways to assist someone living with it. Course leaders will provide information on various aspects of mental illness and the emotional responses families have in dealing with this illness. The course begins Monday, January 29, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and runs weekly for 12 consecutive weeks. Classes are held at Mitchell Community College, Technology & Workforce Development Center-room 108, 701 W. Front Street, Statesville, NC. To register or receive more information, contact Mike Hoffman at maccabees1@roadrunner.com; 843-245-6189, Joyce Carpenter at JoyceC@namilakenormaniredell.org; 704- 453-5052, or Lisa Johnson at ljohnson@covechurch.org; 704-881-4492.  Class size is limited.

Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or jbrucato@partnersbhm.org. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.

Volume 3 – Issue 11
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