Chief Clinical Officer

anthony j mele

On November 2nd Dr. Anthony Mele , a licensed psychologist with over 25 years in the behavioral health industry, joined Sovereign Health as Chief Clinical Officer.  Mele earned his doctor of psychology (Psy.D) degree from Widener University in Chester, PA. His clinical expertise includes the assessment and treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders in adolescents and adults.  We asked Dr. Mele to tell us a little bit about how a kid from Philadelphia, who starts his professional life as school teach becomes the Chief Clinical Officer of a behavioral health company.

From Philly to Sovereign Health

One of my early mentors explained to me that in addition to our family backgrounds, our first job or career exerts significant influence on our subsequent professional performance.  I have found this quite accurately described my experience. I was raised in a very traditional northeastern American-Italian Catholic family. Faith, family, and service were emphasized which likely contributed to my first career as a high school educator. I began my ten year tenure in education teaching court-adjudicated youth during the height of the Philadelphia gang wars. I later taught in a Jersey City, NJ high school directly across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. As an educator, my passion to identify potential and to nurture hope in others flourished. As an educator and mentor, I found myself talking with students whose emotional problems and challenging life situations exceeded my ability to be of any substantive help. I recognized that in order to be most effective, I needed additional education, training and supervision. Thus, at a time when many are settling into their career, I decided to go back to graduate school to pursue a doctorate in clinical and school psychology.

My first position after grad school was as a lead clinician and business development executive in a community-based mental health clinic in suburban Philadelphia. After hours, I maintained a private practice focusing on adolescents. Several years later, I was recruited by a start-up, behavioral health managed care organization where I helped to establish their Child and Adolescent Program. Shortly thereafter I was asked to assume the role of Chief Clinical Officer. When this company was purchased by the nation’s largest health insurer, I was invited to serve as a national vice president for chronic disease management, special needs, and telehealth. This was an exciting position that offered me the opportunity to coordinate treatment protocols between behavioral health and physical health

Eventually, I was invited to join a start-up telepsychiatry program whose clients included VA hospitals, home health agencies and health care insurance companies. Realizing that my knowledge of Medicare could use some enhancement, I secured a position as a senior executive with a multi-state home health company. In this position, I learned the many challenges inherent in running a primarily Medicare-funded health care company. While this position was a great learning experience, it was not particularly fulfilling so when a colleague asked me to establish a new behavioral health company for a psychiatric hospital, I jumped at the opportunity. Eventually this company grew to provide behavioral health services in 41 locations throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Most important, the parent company, a faith-based organization, created an environment where holistic health care welcomed spirituality.

After 6 years of leading this organization, Sovereign Health presented me a new opportunity at the same time that my family was entertaining a relocation. After several interviews with both administrative staff and Dr. Sharma, I was convinced that the entrepreneurial vision of Dr. Sharma and his staff’s commitment to excellence mirrored my own passion in these areas.

My vision for the Clinical program at Sovereign focuses on expanding and enhancing our national network of centers of excellence. This includes further integrating clinical and operational functions and expanding our neurofeedback program. Incorporating a neurocognitive component to traditional psychotherapy will set Sovereign apart from other providers while also providing clients with cutting-edge treatment.

I have been fortunate to have had many exciting professional responsibilities as a psychologist.  I find that Sovereign is succeeding primarily because we have supremely dedicated and caring staff. I am grateful to work with such a caring team.  I find our passion energizing.

In our February Newsletter, Dr. Mele will give us an overview of his vision for integrated care at Sovereign Health.

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