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Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare CEO retiring

CONCORD — Dan Coughlin will retire July 1 as chief executive officer of Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, the agency that manages public funding for mental health and substance abuse services in five counties, including Rowan and Cabarrus.
In the press release announcing Coughlin’s retirement, the agency also announced that Pam Shipman, who is currently chief operations officer, will succeed him. The agency’s board of directors, led by former Salisbury City Council member Bill Burgin, approved Shipman’s appointment March 17.
Coughlin came to Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare in 2000 as the third director over the 35-year existence of the organization.
Coughlin’s career has been spent in the behavioral health field as a clinician and executive administrator in the public and private sectors. He has served on commissions and boards in North Carolina, New York State and nationally.
He led Piedmont Behavioral in establishing a statewide model for reforming behavioral health care funding that gave the local agency control of Medicaid and non-Medicaid state funding and the ability to choose care providers with whom it contracts.
The idea was to put decision-making in the hands of agencies who knew their clients’ needs and to generate competition among private-sector providers for the public dollars, driving down costs and improving quality. The program will expand statewide over the next few years.
In the press release, Burgin said Coughlin “has broken new ground as he led the transformation of PBH from a service provider organization to that of a public manager of a privately delivered system of community services. Under Dan’s leadership, PBH has become a model for North Carolina and beyond.”
Coughlin praised Shipman in the press release.
“She has long and deep relationships, and is highly regarded by consumers, advocates, providers and policy makers,” he said. “Pam is an institution in our field in North Carolina. She brings credibility, prestige and honor to PBH in incomparable measure.”
Shipman called herself “privileged to work under the leadership of Dan Coughlin” and said what she’s learned will benefit her and the agency going forward.
“We are in the process of yet another transformation as we adjust to the far-reaching changes in the healthcare system brought on by the federal Health Reform Act,” she said in the press release. “I am deeply honored to be selected to lead PBH into the future and thankful for the confidence that the PBH Board has placed in me.”
Shipman attained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare in 1987 as assistant area director for developmental disabilities services.
Burgin said he has known Shipman since Rowan County merged with Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare in 1997, and that the agency’s board “believes that the continuity and leadership she will bring to PBH during this time of transition is of great importance.”
“Our goal is to provide the best system of care possible for the people of our communities that depend on the public system for services,” he said. “PBH will benefit from a leader that knows our communities, our state, and our agency as well as Pam.”

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