It was a joint celebration at an open house that took place at the Clermont Counseling Center in Amelia Nov. 3.
The open house, hosted by the Southern Ohio Health Services Network (SOHSN) and the Clermont Counseling Center (CCC), was a way to celebrate the two organization’s combined efforts in the grand opening of their brand new medical facility.
“Medical health care and mental health care are now in the same building,” said SOHSN Chief Operating Officer Anne Combs. “This is a result of an exciting collaboration between Clermont Counseling and SOHSN. It will enable us to provide primary medical care services for the more than 900 mentally ill patients (700 without a primary care physician) in Clermont County.”
The new Southern Ohio Health Clermont Counseling Center, which started seeing patients in its new examination room and offices Oct. 23, is a unique, client-focused care model that employs two medical assistants, a certified nurse, and a physician.
Clermont Counseling Center Executive Director Tricia Burke stated that there was a growing need for such a new facility in the community.
“There is a big need for these services in Clermont,” she said. “Only 30 percent of our surveyed clients said that they had a primary care physician. This new facility will now help us in continuing to provide our counseling services to the under-served population and also get them the medical attention they need. We want people to realize that help is there for everyone who needs it.”
The new facility received a start-up grant from the Health Fund of Greater Cincinnati in the spring of this year; the grant helped with the starting costs of the initial renovation of the new office and the necessary medical equipment.
The open house, which attracted 45 people and culminated in an afternoon community health fair, was the first chance for the mental health/medical care community and local officials to tour and discuss the new facility.
“It was a good match to marry and combine our efforts with the CCC into one place to provide these needed services,” said SOHSN Vice-President of Operations Mary Hetzel during the tour. “Mental health illnesses are defined by the nature of the challenges they face and for whatever reasons, some are unequipped to even go to a primary care doctor. Mental health issues can be so disruptive to so many lives. The new center will ease that stress and make patients feel more comfortable with seeking attention. They can now get the mental and medical health care that they need in the same offices, thereby providing a comfort zone for the client.”
Combs says that the partnership is ideal in every conceivable way and that the whole model is primarily based upon a growing national initiative.
“There is currently a very large movement in the country to integrate primary medical care and mental health care,” she said. “There is a lot of attention on it right now and we feel that this collaborative effort is contributing to developing this smarter culture.”