Dallas County’s Struggling Mental Health Provider will Implement Layoffs, a Clinic Closure, and a Salary Freeze

Metrocare Services will lay off more than 40 people and close another clinic as Dallas County’s largest purveyor of mental health services tries to steady itself after a financially torrid 2017.

Metrocare CEO Dr. John Burruss notified staff on Monday in an email. He said executive, administrative, and management salaries also will be frozen “for the foreseeable future.”

The Midway Center in Addison has been slated for closure.

According to a source close to the company, the number of people impacted by layoffs could be as many as 60. That would be about 7 percent of Metrocare’s 900 employees. The agency serves more than 57,000 people and is budgeted to bring in $126 million in revenue during the fiscal year ending in August (Ed note: This figure has been adjusted to $115 million, according to the minutes from Metrocare’s board meeting in March).

“For some time now, Metrocare’s Board of Trustees and Executive Team have been wrestling with hard financial choices,” Burruss says in the email, which was provided to D CEO Healthcare by another source. “Over the past year, many measures have successfully increased earnings and reduced spending. Nonetheless, I believe that two more difficult steps are needed for Metrocare to overcome this challenge.”

Burruss says those two steps are the layoffs and salary freezes, characterizing the closure of the Midway Center in Addison as a necessary byproduct of staff reductions. The full letter is below this story.

Burruss and a spokesperson for Metrocare Services did not return multiple emails seeking comment.

Burruss’ three-year employment contract expired on April 28, two days before he sent the email to staff. That contract, which I obtained through an open records request, included two incremental raises that brought Burruss to a 2018 salary of $382,347. It also included two $50,000 bonuses during the three years and benefits like a car and cell phone allowance. I’ve put in another request for Burruss’ most recent contract.

The ongoing financial problems at Metrocare, a government agency that is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, were detailed in this space in February. The agency took a hit when it sold its software division at a loss. It has divested properties and closed the Pathways Clinic and the Adapt Clinic. Cash reserves have been depleted, and things got bad enough that at one point last year, Metrocare ran out of prescription stock and had to send patients elsewhere after it found itself without money to pay pharmaceutical vendors.

Burruss at the time of that story acknowledged a “really difficult” 2017, but said that, overall, efforts to revitalize the company since he was named CEO five years ago have been “enormously successful.”

The Midway Center, located at the corner of Midway and Keller Springs roads in Addison, remains open for the time being. A woman at the front desk on Wednesday afternoon told me the center will close at the end of the month, and that those who use the location will have an option to shift to another.

The closest Metrocare location with an aim similar to Midway’s is Metrocare at Skillman, located 12 miles away on Skillman Street in Dallas.

I was also told by a receptionist at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Metrocare Services—located next door to Midway—that the Cohen Clinic will remain open.

Here’s the full text of Burruss’ email:

Metrocare team members,

For some time now, Metrocare’s Board of Trustees and Executive Team have been wrestling with hard financial choices. Over the past year, many measures have successfully increased earnings and reduced spending. Nonetheless, I believe that two more difficult steps are needed for Metrocare to overcome this challenge. To that end, I have made the decision to eliminate over 40 positions across the agency and to freeze executive, administrative and management salaries for the foreseeable future.

As a part of the decision to reduce staffing, a necessary change will be to close the Midway Center in Addison. The team at Midway has worked terribly hard to build and serve a client base since opening in 2015 and many people have been well cared for. Unfortunately, despite these efforts the location is no longer viable in the current financial climate. All of the patients seen at Midway can be accommodated at Metrocare’s other centers and we will work with them to transition to other treatment locations.

I know that everyone is affected by the loss of work colleagues who share our passion and commitment to serve. I want to express my appreciation to each of you for your dedication to serve those with mental health and IDD challenges and sincerely apologize for the real and emotional loss that these corporate changes represent. My commitment, and that of the executive leadership, is to work as a team to continue to grow and deliver more high-quality services to those who depend on Metrocare. Today’s changes help make that possible.

Have no doubt that you, Metrocare’s 900 team members, will continue to change Dallas for the better on a daily basis. You will always have my gratitude for your role in making so many people’s lives better.

Thank you for all you do for our neighbors in need each and every day.

John W. Burruss, M.D.

CEO – Metrocare Services