Education event

Behavioral Health Care Symposium
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December 7 - 8, 2020
8:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., Pacific Time, Daily


Moments of Change
Challenge Leads to Opportunity

2020 was unpredictable.  A Pandemic – social injustices – health care fatigue – global uncertainties – fear.

Through all of the adversity, hospitals, their staff and other behavioral health partners, continued to help our most vulnerable populations. The mission never wavered. In desperate situations, we forged new paths and found new solutions. Those solutions and collaborations have led to Moments of Change and those Challenges Became Opportunities.

December 7 - 8, 15th Annual Behavioral Health Care Symposium
Two days focused on behavioral health care policy and pressing issues.


Monday, December 7 – Day 1

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. | Welcome and Opening Remarks
Sheree Lowe, Vice President, Behavioral Health, California Hospital Association and John Hoffman, Head, Health Policy & Advocacy, Janssen US

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. | Keynote — Harnessing the Science of Human Performance
Natalie Johnson, Performance Coach, Human Performance Institute
In today’s 24/7 world, employees are under pressure to perform, to handle more, to always be “on.” As a result, fatigue and turnover are rising. Only 30% of American employees are engaged and performing to their full potential, and almost half are struggling to balance work and life. This session will help attendees transform the way they approach energy management to achieve sustained high performance. By applying energy management tips to your life, you may be one step closer to unlocking more energy and igniting your full potential.

10:00 – 10:45 a.m. | General Session — What is Happening in 2020? Legal Cases of Interest
Felicia Sze, Partner at Athene Law, LLP
2020 has brought exciting litigation that will decide numerous issues around the responsibilities of counties and hospitals, as well as the rights of consumers in the area of behavioral health care. The hot topics raised include network accountability, timely access to care, and parity. Attorney Felicia Sze will discuss the details of these cases and how their outcomes may affect behavioral health care.

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | General Session — COVID-19 & Behavioral Health Care: Challenges and Opportunities
Susan L. Taylor, JD, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, College Hospital, Costa Mesa and Adjunct Professor, University of Southern California; Brent Longtin, Vice President, California Signature Behavioral Healthcare Services; Vikas Duvvuri, Medical Director, Fremont Hospital
When COVID-19 reared its head, health care had to react quickly. As guidelines and recommendations came forward, the behavioral health care world was still facing issues that were different from traditional settings. Listen as individuals discuss how they managed their own facilities during the challenges that were laid before them. The lessons they learned can help others as they navigate through the long journey ahead.

12:00- 1:00 p.m. | Unique Session — Changing the Narrative Around Mental Illness
Zachary Burton, Co-Founder, The Manic Monologues
Stigma can be more fatal than mental illness itself. Lack of conversation leads to fear, fear leads to lack of conversation. It’s a vicious loop. And the problem is, when we are afraid and silent, people suffer alone. 
Zack had his first psychotic break and was diagnosed with bipolar in May 2017.​
One of the hardest parts about those early days was the utter absence of relatable, lived experiences. Nobody talks about it like you might talk about a new relationship, or a difficult boss. 
This presentation brings to life incredible stories — stories that will challenge and inform your ideas about what it means to be touched by a mental health disorder. These experiences are submitted by diverse and resilient people. They have things to say about struggle and pain, but also triumph and joy. They are moving. They are human. They are not ashamed. 

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. | Backstage Pass with Speakers
Unique opportunity to talk to speakers in breakout rooms. Ask more questions and gain more insights. This is your chance to ask questions more specific to your own hospital or facility.

Tuesday, December 8

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. | Šimanek Distinguished Service Award
Recipient: Aimee Moulin, Associate Professor at UC Davis with a dual appointment in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry. Dr. Moulin is also the Behavioral Health Director for the Emergency Department at UC Davis, Sacramento.​

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | Keynote — Administration’s Position on All Things Behavioral Health
Stephanie Welch, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health, California Health and Human Services Agency
Behavioral Health Care is steadily gaining attention in California. Stephanie Welch was recently appointed by Governor Newsom as the Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health at the California Health and Human Services Agency. Listen as she discusses the need to meet this moment for behavioral health care and issues on the horizon for 2021. She will also outline administration priorities including prevention and early intervention as well as adequately serving the most vulnerable Californians who have been disproportionately impacted by the public health and fiscal crisis.

9:30 – 10:15 a.m. | General Session — HR Updates
Gail Blanchard-Saiger, Vice President & Counsel, Labor & Employment, California Hospital Association
Every year, California passes new labor and employment laws and updates existing ones. It is important for hospitals and health system facilities to be aware and understand how these changes affect their operations. Come prepared with questions as Ms. Blanchard-Saiger will discuss these new laws and the impact they may have on hospitals.

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. | Break

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. | General Session — Bringing Sense to the System: Changing the Way we Conceptualize, Actualize, and Naturalize Treatment
Michael Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Behavioral Health Services, El Camino Hospital and Sarah Eberhardt-Rios, Health and Human Services Branch Director, Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health
This is an opportunity to learn more about one of the most significant changes in payment authorization since the mental health managed care program was realigned to counties in 1991. Mr. Fitzgerald will discuss the conversation from retrospective reviews to concurrent reviews for inpatient hospital authorization, as required by federal Medicaid Managed Care rule for county mental health plans.

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. | General Session — EMTALA/SB855: California Strengthens Mental Health Parity Law
Alicia Macklin, Senior Counsel, Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, PC
Governor Newsom recently signed a number of bills to expand access to quality behavioral health care for Californians, including SB 855 which aims to remediate gaps and flaws in the California Mental Health Parity Act, and is expected to significantly expand insurance coverage for mental health conditions. Along with this new law, providers are still struggling with how to how to satisfy their Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) obligations. Complicating factors include a lack of inpatient and community levels of services and a shortage of qualified providers. Ms. Macklin will provide you with the latest information to help support your hospitals EMTALA obligations and provide details about SB 855 and its impact on hospitals.

12:45 – 1:15 p.m. | Backstage Pass with Speakers
Unique opportunity to talk to speakers in breakout rooms. Ask more questions and gain more insights. This is your chance to ask questions more specific to your own hospital or facility.


Gail Blanchard-Saiger 
Vice President, Labor and Employment
California Hospital Association

Gail Blanchard-Saiger is vice president of labor and employment for the California Hospital Association. Ms. Blanchard-Saiger provides leadership for state legislative and regulatory issues related to hospital human resources and labor relations.

Zachary F. M. Burton, Ph.D.
The Manic Monologues

Dr. Zachary Burton co-founded and leads The Manic Monologues, a play (and now film) showcasing true mental health stories to break down stigma. Among other things, he is an advisor and partner to AdventHealth, and an editor at The Better Because Project, where he helps individuals publish stories of post-traumatic resilience. He has spoken for TEDx, Project Happiness, the U.S. Department of State, and the Stanford School of Medicine, and has authored mental health content for the International Bipolar Foundation, Devex.  Dr. Burton also led a career as a scientific researcher with the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. He lives with bipolar I disorder.

Vikas Duvvuri, MD, PhD
Medical Director
Fremont Hospital




Sarah Eberhardt-Rios, MPA
Health and Human Services Branch Director
Sutter –Yuba Behavioral Health

Sarah Eberhardt-Rios, MPA, is a Branch Director for Sutter County Health and Human Services, serving both Sutter and Yuba Counties in the Northern region of California and oversees psychiatric emergency and acute inpatient services.  Sarah also lead the Integrated Systems of Care Division at the California Department of Health Care Services overseeing specialty health programs serving 1 million beneficiaries including multiple state waivers and California Children’s Services.  

Michael Fitzgerald
Executive Director, Mental Health & Addiction Services
El Camino Hospital

Michael Fitzgerald is the Executive Director for Mental Health and Addiction Services at El Camino Hospital.  During his time at the hospital he has developed specialized approaches to care that include the creation of the ASPIRE program for middle school, teens, and young adults.  The ASPIRE program has served over 1000 adolescents since its inception in 2010.   He was a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry and has served on regional and statewide boards, including 3 years as chair of the California Hospital Association behavioral health center. 

John Hoffman
Head, Health Policy and Advocacy
Janssen US

John Hoffman is the Head, Health Policy and Advocacy for Janssen’s Strategic Customer Group (SCG).
John’s team partners with provider and patient organizations as well as employers to create an environment for appropriate access to Janssen Pharmaceutical products. The Health Policy team works closely with the J&J Government Affairs & Policy team to help shape the perceived value of pharmaceuticals and ensure that policy decisions do not adversely affect patient access to our products.
John has more than 34 years of broad experience at J&J, including Finance, Managed Care Marketing, e-Business, and Corporate Strategy. He currently leads the Janssen Global Patient Advocacy Council and serves on the board of The Women’s Care Center Foundation.
John holds a BA in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Indiana University. He is also a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and holds a Certificate in Health Policy from Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health.

Natalie Johnson
Population Health Consultants

Natalie Johnson is a nationally recognized expert in employee wellbeing, fitness, nutrition and health promotion. She has 30+ years’ experience working with a wide variety of populations including athletes, law enforcement, bariatrics and women’s health. She has been featured in a variety of media outlets including FitTV, Body by Jake, Shape Magazine and Prevention. As an experienced corporate trainer, Ms. Johnson is dedicated to helping individuals increase engagement, productivity and overall performance in both their professional and personal lives. HUMAN PERFORMANCE INSTITUTE® Human Performance Institute® is a pioneer in behavior change in the fields of performance, resilience, and leadership. We help organizations become physically energized, emotionally resilient, mentally focused, and fully engaged, for the moments that matter – fueling higher performance, inspiring purposeful living, and improving wellbeing.

 Ms. Johnson is the president of Population Health Consultants a firm that works with employers and physician groups nationwide on well-being strategy and clinical integration. Natalie has received a variety of awards including Champion of Healthcare, Healthcare Hero, MFA Program Innovation Award, Executive Director of the Year, Corporate Wellness Leadership Award and Businesswoman Leader Extraordinaire. She sits on the board of directors for the Medical Fitness Association and believes that in order to provide quality healthcare and prevention to individuals it’s imperative that medical and wellness professionals work collaboratively together.

Brent Longtin
Vice President
California Signature Behavioral Healthcare Services

Brent Longtin, RN, PMHCNS-BC is currently the Regional Vice President for Signature Healthcare, LLC and has operational oversight of 6 California free standing psychiatric hospitals and opening 3 more hospitals in 2021.Mr. Longtin has been in healthcare for the past 37 years with a primary focus in psychiatric-mental healthcare with clinical and management operations for the past 37 years.  He is currently certified as a psychiatric-mental health clinical nurse specialist and licensed in the state of CA.

Alicia Macklin
Senior Counsel
Hooper, Lundy, & Bookman, PC

Alicia Macklin is senior counsel with Hooper, Lundy, & Bookman, PC. Ms. Macklin is a recognized expert on legal issues in behavioral health and substance abuse treatment and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).  In particular, she focuses on issues raised in the context of behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment, such as privacy and confidentiality concerns and unique compliance concerns.  She also advises on EMTALA-related issues, including policies, trainings, and investigations.  Ms. Macklin also assists health care providers, including hospitals, physicians, and health services companies with a broad range of compliance, licensing and certification, and reimbursement issues.  In addition to her work at the firm, Ms. Macklin is also a Lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, where she teaches Legal Environment of Health Services Management. 

Felicia Sze
Managing Partner
Athene Law

Felicia Sze is managing partner at Athene Law. She is a recognized expert in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement matters, focusing on both the managed care and fee-for-service programs. She advises healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, post-acute providers, pharmacies, durable medical equipment suppliers, and others, on a wide array of compliance and reimbursement matters and in disputes with managed care entities and government payors.  Ms. Sze regularly reviews, revises and negotiates managed care contracts with a focus on those using alternative payment models.

Susan Taylor, JD, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer
College Hospital

Susan Taylor is CEO for College Hospital in Costa Mesa. She is skilled in the areas of health care finance, legal and regulatory compliance, strategic planning and has a detailed knowledge of acute care, behavioral health and substance abuse services. Prior to working at College Hospital, Taylor was general counsel for College Health Enterprises.

Stephanie N. Welch
Deputy Secretary, Behavioral Health
California Health and Human Services Agency

Stephanie N. Welch was appointed by Governor Newsom to the position of Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health at the California Health and Human Services Agency. Ms. Welch has served as Executive Officer for the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health since 2015. She was Senior Program Manager for the California Mental Health Services Authority from 2011 to 2015. She was an Associate Policy Director of at the County Behavioral Health Directors Association from 2007 to 2011. She was Associate Director of Public Policy at the Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies from 2000 to 2005. Ms. Welch earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California.


Behavioral Health Care Symposium is December 7 - 8.

Members: $0
Nonmembers: $375
Government: $275

While this event is free for CHA members you must register to attend. Multiple staff can participate from one location for one tuition fee. Tuition includes all webinar materials including CEs

*Members are CHA member hospitals. **Nonmembers are limited to non-hospital health care providers, clinics, post-acute facilities, and consultants, insurance companies, law firms and other entities that serve hospitals. Education programs and publications are a membership benefit and are not available to eligible non-member California hospitals.

Special Accommodations

If you require special accommodations pursuant to the American’s with Disabilities Act please call (916) 552-7637.

Presentations will be available online only

You will receive an email before the event with instructions on how to download the presentations to your laptop/tablet for viewing on-site, or to print and bring with you. 

Cancellation Policy/Late Payment

A $75 non-refundable processing fee will be retained for each cancellation. Cancellations must be made in writing 7 or more days prior to the scheduled event and emailed to No refunds will be made after these dates. Substitutions are encouraged. In the unlikely event that the program is cancelled, refunds will be issued to paid registrants within 30 days.

Quality Assurance/Grievance

The CHA education quality assurance/grievance policy is available upon request by emailing If you have any concerns or dissatisfaction with the quality of a CHA education program, please contact Robyn Thomason, Director, Education at (916) 552-7514, or email


Call the Education Department at (916) 552-7637.

Continuing Education

Amount of CEUs offered are subject to change.  

Full attendance and completion of the online evaluation and attestation of attendance are required to receive CEs for this virtual conference and, when required, include your professional license number. CE certificates will be emailed. (Amount of CE offered subject to change.)

Behavioral/Social Work — Behavioral Health Care Symposium course meets the qualifications for up to 8.25 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs and LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. CHA is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs and LCSWs. Provider approval number 128427. CHA maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content.

At the conclusion of each day, participants will be able to:

Behavioral Health Care Symposium, Day 1:

  • Describe challenges when facing change and how to utilize coping skills to address behavioral outcomes.
  • Understand the nuances of recent litigation against hospitals and the impact the decisions will have on health care.
  • Discuss how psychiatric facilities have managed the onset of COVID 19 among patients and the lessons learned.
  • Describe the different social stigmas facing individuals with behavioral health conditions and how to help alleviate those stigmas.

Behavioral Health Care Symposium, Day 2:

  • Discuss the current administrations stance on behavioral health care in California and what challenges lie ahead.
  • Describe the new labor and employment laws and how these changes affect hospital operations.
  • Discuss the retrospective reviews to concurrent reviews for inpatient hospital authorization, as required by federal Medicaid Managed Care rule for county mental health plans.
  • Describe EMTALA obligations and provide details about SB 855 and its impact on hospitals.

Compliance — The Compliance Certification Board (CCB)® has approved this event for up to 9.9 live CCB CEUs based on a 50-minute hour. Continuing Education Units are awarded based on individual attendance records. Granting of prior approval in no way constitutes endorsement by CCB of this event content or of the event sponsor.

Health Care Executives — CHA is authorized to award up to 8.25 hours of pre-approved ACHE Qualified Education Credit (non-ACHE) for this program toward the advancement or recertification in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Participants in this program who wish to have the continuing education hours applied toward ACHE Qualified Education credit must self-report their participation. To self-report, participants must log into their MyACHE account and select ACHE Qualified Education Credit.

Nursing Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, CEP 11924, for up to 9.9 contact hours.


For exclusive sponsorship opportunities at the Behavioral Health Care Virtual Symposium, email Lisa Hartzell at

Click here to download a sponsor application form.

On behalf of the California Hospital Association, we would like to thank our corporate sponsors for their promotional support of the 15th Annual Behavioral Health Care Symposium.

Platinum Sponsor

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson, provides medicines for an array of health concerns in several therapeutic areas, including: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), general medicine (acid reflux disease, infectious diseases), mental health (bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia), neurologics (Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine prevention and treatment), pain management, and women’s health.

Our ultimate goal is to help people live healthy lives. We have produced and marketed many first-in-class prescription medications and are poised to serve the broad needs of the healthcare market – from patients to practitioners, from clinics to hospitals.

Headquartered in Titusville, New Jersey, Janssen is named after Dr. Paul Janssen, a leading Belgian researcher, pharmacologist, and general practitioner. Dr. Janssen led a group of researchers to discover a medicine that helped change the way mental health patients were treated. His company, Janssen Pharmaceutica, joined the Johnson & Johnson family of companies in 1961. Our company remains guided by Dr. Janssen’s values of excellence and innovation.

Caren Sykes
Healthcare Policy and Advocacy Director
Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc.
(661) 332-2577



Gold Sponsor

Whitehall Manufacturing provides the health care industry with products that help ensure patient care and safety, including patient care units, scrub sinks, bariatric toilets, dialysis boxes, and ligature resistant plumbing fixtures and restroom accessories. These products help healthcare practitioners provide effective treatment to their patients. Whitehall Manufacturing has representatives and dealers in every US state and many other countries and our products can be found in healthcare facilities all over the world.

Kristin Kahle
Vice President
(800) 488-8999

Zabrina Castro

Steve McIntosh


Silver Sponsor

St. Joseph’s Behavioral Health Center is a licensed, not-for-profit facility providing comprehensive services to the Stockton community since 1974. St. Joseph’s Behavioral Health features inpatient and outpatient facilities offering a variety of services for adults and adolescents. Our specially trained staff of board-certified psychiatrists, physicians, and licensed professionals are committed to providing compassionate, quality care, and creating an atmosphere that fosters communication, trust, and personal growth. 

Paul Rains
SVP, Behavioral Health
(209) 461-+2000