Rockford, Ill. – The governing boards of Rosecrance Health Network and Janet Wattles Center have unanimously approved an affiliation agreement that creates a comprehensive behavioral health network serving greater Rockford and Northern Illinois.
Rosecrance provides addiction treatment and Janet Wattles offers mental health services. Each is a non-profit organization, and each is the largest provider of its type of healthcare in Northern Illinois. Rosecrance serves more than 5,000 families annually; Janet Wattles has 7,000 consumers each year.
The agreement makes Rosecrance the parent company and Janet Wattles a subsidiary corporation of RHN. The combined workforce of the two organizations is 553 staff, and the combined budgets total almost $46 million.
In separate meetings last week, each organization’s governing board unanimously endorsed the affiliation agreement, which will be finalized Dec. 17. The boards began discussing affiliation more than a year ago.
“This was an opportunity to join two financially strong organizations to create a network of behavioral health services that is unequaled in the state of Illinois,” said Philip W. Eaton of Rosecrance, who will be the President and CEO of the newly created entity. “We are linking two highly educated, superbly motivated groups of employees to improve the quality of behavioral health care in this region.”
Frank Ware, current President and CEO of Janet Wattles, said that the two organizations already work closely together to serve individuals who have co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Rosecrance and Janet Wattles have collaborated in the past on public policy issues and program development. The agencies frequently refer clients to each other.
Ware will become Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Mental Health Services in the new corporate structure.
“This is all about improving care in this community and region,” Ware said. “Phil and I have long had great respect for each other and for our respective workforces. This is truly a case where the sum will be greater than the two parts.
“We will be better together.”
Rosecrance Health Network Board Chairman Thomas Furst praised the vision shown by Eaton and Ware.
“By working together, these two visionary leaders have placed an intentional focus on building a network of care that will help this community meet growing needs for decades to come,” Furst said. “We truly have an opportunity to create a national model and serve our clients at a much higher level than we could do separately. The Rosecrance board enthusiastically supports this agreement.”
Janet Wattles Board Chairman Paula Carynski said her board likewise embraced the opportunity to break ground in the healthcare industry through this affiliation.
“Our board decided that we could be a leader in shaping the destiny for behavioral health in this region,” Carynski said. “This is an exciting venture that serves each agency’s mission and sets the stage for a comprehensive network of care that will improve thousands of lives in the years to come.”
Both organizations have decades of stability in top leadership. Eaton has been at Rosecrance since 1971, when he joined the agency as a counselor for youth with behavior disorders. Rosecrance changed its mission to addiction treatment in 1982. He has led the agency as President and CEO since 1982.
Ware has led Janet Wattles Center since 1989. Under his leadership, the agency established financial stability and grew the budget from $2 million to $13.6 million. Janet Wattles now is the preeminent provider of mental health services in the region.
Both agencies and both leaders have been recognized for excellence in their respective areas of service with professional and community awards. The agencies are licensed and accredited in their fields. Rosecrance and Janet Wattles share the distinction of having received the Excelsior Award from the Rockford Register Star, the pinnacle for quality and community respect among social service agencies in the Rockford region.