Three months after announcing that the two organizations were exploring a merger, Pillars and Community Nurse Health Center have made it official. On Sept. 13, the two organizations announced that their boards of directors had voted in favor of the merger and that the newly constituted agency — as yet unnamed — would be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Angela Curran, CEO and president of Community Nurse Health Center since 2007, will become CEO and president of the merged organization. Helen Stewart, chief clinical officer of Pillars, will take over as senior executive vice president. Both positions become effective on Jan. 1.

Also, on Sept. 13, the longtime president and CEO of Pillars, Ann Schreiner, announced her retirement, effective Dec. 31. She has spent 34 of her 40-year career in social work with Pillars, whose more than 240 staff members provide a wide range of mental health and social services to clients in 18 suburban ZIP codes.

Community Nurse, which employs 60 staff members, is a health center that delivers medical, psychiatric, behavioral and dental care services to more than 5,000 low-income families in the suburbs, according to a press release announcing the merger.

According to Curran, the two organizations have worked collaboratively for some time. For example, said Curran, Pillars has had behavioral health counselors onsite at Community Nurse in LaGrange for years.

 But the merger will allow more efficient access to the services each individual organization has provided in the past. The new organization will continue to provide all of the services presently offered by both Pillars and Community Nurse, and all of the organizations’ locations will remain open.

However, locations known for specializing in one type of care likely in the future will integrate more care options.

“As our services grow, there’s always a chance there will be a need for a larger health care facility,” Curran said in a phone interview.

During the next month or so, said Curran, a newly formed board of directors will settle on a new vision/mission statement for the merged organization and come up with a new name and branding for it.

The chair of the merged board of directors will be Zada Clarke, who presently is board chair of Pillars, effective Jan. 1.

In the meantime, on Sept. 15 Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding a $175,701 grant to Community Nurse to “expand access to mental health and substance abuse services, including the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse,” according to a press release from Lipinski’s office.

“Everything is going toward providing both primary and mental health services,” Curran said. “Actually, this grant exemplifies why it made sense to merge.”