Q & A with Anne D. Constantino

By Brenda Alesii

Horizon Health’s CEO discusses the alliance between Horizon and Endeavor Health Services and how the combined organization will provide quality healthcare in a more efficient way

Two well-known agencies joined forces in mid-November, resulting in a coordinated network of behavioral healthcare service across the region.

This strategic plan linking Horizon Health with Endeavor Health Services will provide a comprehensive spectrum of quality coordinated care for patients and their families.

Known as the Horizon Health Alliance, the affiliates will employ more than a thousand people and serve in excess of 20,000 patients.

While Endeavor Health Services, the inaugural affiliate, will continue to operate independently, the new partnership will collaborate in four key areas: data analytics, training, marketing, and DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging).

Amherst resident and UB alumnus Anne D. Constantino has been at the helm of the Horizons Corporations since 1994. In Good Health spoke to Constantino about this new corporate affiliation.

Q. Horizon has been around since 1975 and has provided mental health, addiction treatment and support services for people in Western New York. What was the impetus to partner with Endeavor?

A. While we made it official on Nov. 14, we’ve been working toward this for a while. Today’s environment is one that is conducive to building on existing strengths in the system. In order to provide quality healthcare, we need a robust infrastructure and that is expensive. This allows us to share and expand specialty resources, utilize Horizon’s training — called Horizon University — develop data used for decision making and share IT and data analytics. It makes sense to save expenses when programs are already in place at our agencies.

Q. What have you learned about the similarities and the differences between Horizon and Endeavor?

A. Mental health conditions and substance abuse problems are complementary services that overlap at the top. Endeavor does different things that we don’t do. For example, Endeavor provides rehab programs. They also do a lot of on-ground partnering with the police, including interventions. We do different things in different territories for the most part. It all adds depth to services, which means the community wins. Our service areas are local and also extend into Genesee and Monroe Counties in Rochester.

Q. What are some of the common disorders people are facing with their mental health?

A. Anxiety and depression are the biggest issues. Depression, which is not always assessed properly, is a serious mental illness and has a tremendous impact on one’s life. Alcohol abuse is still a big problem followed by opioids. People use drugs and alcohol for different reasons.

Q. Recently Stephen “tWitch” Boss, a former “Ellen DeGeneres Show” DJ and “So You Think You Can Dance” all-star, died at the age of 40 by suicide. When a high-profile individual takes his or her life, does it create an uptick in calls to your agency?

A. Yes, there has been a small increase in calls. When these terrible things happen, it raises awareness of mental health challenges, the need for help, which is not always easy to ask for. The most important thing is to talk about those uncomfortable feelings. Since the pandemic, there have been more people seeking help. The sooner someone comes in for care, the better the outcome. During the height of COVID, almost everyone experienced mental health symptoms. That shared experience helps take away the stigma of needing help.

Q. How is Horizon funded?

A. We receive funding from a number of sources: third-party Medicaid and Medicare, state funding, grants, fundraising events and the generosity of families who have needed our services.

Q. Like so many employers, have you found it difficult to find staff?

A. Staffing is a constant need. We update job openings on a regular basis.

Q. What’s the best way to reach Horizon?

A. Our website: www.horizonhealthalliance.org. Our patient engagement center can be reached at 716-831-1800.

Q. What’s your mindset as we embark on a new year?

A. I’m always realistic about the problems and optimistic that we can do better.