Joe Dziobek, president and CEO of Fellowship Health Resources, has, in his nearly 40-year career there, helped the nonprofit behavioral health care agency grow from $1 million to $33 million in annual revenue, and established several departments, including the Office of Peer Recovery Services, and Studio 35, a healing arts and recovery program.
His most recent work has focused on expanding children’s mental-health services and integrating physical and behavioral health care services.
In early March, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare awarded Dziobek one of its Awards of Excellence to acknowledge his leadership and innovative and inspirational efforts.
PBN: Why did you enter and then stay in the behavioral health care field?
DZIOBEK: There had been some mental illness in my extended family. I remember visiting my aunt at a state hospital and just feeling kind of drawn to the idea. My game plan when I was thinking of a vocation was to do something that would make a difference. That was kind of my compass.
PBN: What is the state’s behavioral health care system’s greatest asset?
DZIOBEK: I think you’ve got a pool of very dedicated people working in Rhode Island. You’ve got a resource pool that has worked with people with severe mental illness and a long-term history of mental illness for a long time. By and large it’s not people who are leaving for a more lucrative field, but who are dedicated to working with people who present some challenging situations.
PBN: What is the field’s biggest challenge here?
DIZOBEK: There are several. I think No. 1 is the provider community is underfunded. We’ve seen a reduction in rates, and budgets, and amounts of dollars allocated. [Next], Rhode Island has prided itself as being one of the first in the nation to go down the road of health homes and that also presents problems from the perspective that there’s no experimental history to fall back on. We’re kind of going ahead and doing what we think is right, but making mistakes along the way. … I think with the Affordable Care Act kicking in, you’re going to have a groundswell almost of people who become eligible for health services who haven’t before.