From left to right, at the Center for Well Being: Ellen Creighton, Peter Trout and Shawn Sabella of Behavioral Health Services North.
PLATTSBURGH — They practically tripped over themselves trying to provide mental health services. Bathrooms became chart rooms, there was no elevator and the waiting room was like a closet that was not conducive to comfort.
“We were very cramped,” said Peter Trout, chief operating officer of Behavioral Health Services North.
Recently, BHSN moved its Adult Clinic from 63 Broad Street to its new Center for Well Being at 2155 Route 3 in Morrisonville.
“The opportunities here far outweigh the outdated, inadequate building with no green space and limited parking,” Trout said. “This site has 10 acres, so there is plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities.”
BHSN, a nonprofit established in 1874 as a place to care for orphans and abandoned children, was one of the first incorporated charitable organizations in the North Country.
It has evolved over the years and today aims to lead the North Country in behavioral healthcare through 25 programs that serve children, adults, families and organizations. Governed by a board of directors, BHSN currently has more than 20 sites.
BHSN looked for a new adult facility for about a decade and made several attempts to relocate while remaining in the City of Plattsburgh.
“That was our first priority,” Trout said, “but the longer we looked, the more we realized there was no available affordable housing space in the city.”
The location at 2155 Route 3 once housed St. Alexander’s parochial school, which was followed by Pyramids child care. It has been empty for at least three years.
BHSN’s staff was concerned about accessibility, but that concern faded after reviewing survey results. There is some public transportation that provides access to the site, and BHSN will likely push for more.
Unlike 63 Broad Street, this location is on one floor that is handicap accessible. The building has been renovated to suit BHSN’s needs. The waiting room, for example, is much larger than the old one and provides cluster seating for increased privacy when that desired by clients.
The Center for Well Being also offers primary care, which BHSN felt was important to integrate into its mental health services.
The new facility includes two Department of Health-approved exam rooms.
Trout explained that mental health clients, on average, die 25 years before those without mental illnesses, adding that part of that figure can be attributed to a lack of good primary care.
Services offered at the Adult Clinic include mental health treatments for Clinton County adults such as mental health assessments, psychotherapy, psychiatric consultation, medication management and crisis services.
The Personalized Recovery Oriented Services Learning Center brings rehabilitation, support and clinic services together into plans that support participants’ goals.
At the new location, clients will have access to more educational and recreational activities, said Shawn Sabella, the program director of Personalized Recovery Oriented Services. BHSN may start a community garden in a fenced-in area, which will allow clients to grow vegetables, an activity which can be very relaxing.
“The increased green space is really important,” Sabella said. “We now have a gym and year-round access to wellness activities.”
“The focus is identifying life goals and getting it and sustaining it,” Trout said.