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Rebecca Green | SBJ

No. 9: Burrell Behavioral Health grows through M&A activity

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New Year’s Day 2022 brought a new name and scope to the work of Burrell Behavioral Health. The Springfield-based mental health services provider finalized a joint venture with Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. that resulted in a new parent company called Brightli.

At the time of the deal, Burrell and Kirksville-based PFH employed roughly 4,600 people combined, providing behavioral and primary health, substance-use treatment and dental assistance, among other services. It was a merger of near equals, as reported annual revenue was $167 million for Burrell and $137 million for PFH in fiscal 2021.

The combined service footprint covers roughly 175 locations in five states, leading officials to call Brightli a national player in mental health.

“We’ll identify as one of, if not the largest, nonprofit behavioral health centers in the country,” Burrell President and CEO C.J. Davis said after the deal became effective.

Though officials said Burrell and PFH would continue to operate under their existing names and structures, a new board of directors was created to govern Brightli. Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams was named chair, with other directors appointed from the boards of Burrell and PFH.

Before joining with Burrell, PFH was embroiled in a multiyear federal investigation of executive embezzlement and political kickbacks in its Arkansas markets that led to firings and convictions of those involved. Burrell officials said their due diligence of the matters left them comfortable with the leaders that remained, including PFH’s emergent President and CEO Mike Schwend.

Officials say the name Brightli was selected after reviewing some 250 options.

“We really started to decide that what we’re about is ensuring that every human that we interact with and serve, we help them live their brightest life,” Davis said.

A month prior to aligning with PFH, Burrell officials completed an acquisition of a state-designated Community Mental Health Center in the Kansas City market, called Comprehensive Mental
Health Services.


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