New center to address shortage of mental health providers

Facility will serve children in Lancaster County

A Lancaster-based nonprofit focused on children’s health is expanding its services to include mental and behavioral health.

This fall CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health is opening a behavioral health center in East Lampeter Township next to its administrative and program center, at 1929 Lincoln Highway East.

The behavioral health center will be connected to the CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health dental center. Renovations to the existing building are underway, according to Philip Goropoulos, president of CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health.

Behavioral health services are a new endeavor for CHI St. Joseph but are based on community needs, Goropoulos said.

A 2014 study by Philadelphia-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars found that Lancaster County had one mental health professional for every 1,379 residents. The ideal ratio for a healthy community is about one provider for every 521 residents, the study said.

“The Lancaster community is facing a behavioral health crisis,” said Goropoulos.

Goropoulos noted that a behavioral health center for kids is critical due to a shortage of mental and behavioral health providers, combined with increasing pressures and stresses in the community such as an increase in school violence and bomb threats in Lancaster County schools last year.

 “As a nonprofit focused on all aspects of children’s health, this is an opportunity for us to make a difference,” Goropoulos said.

The Behavioral Health Center will provide services to patients up to age 26 regardless of insurance or their ability to pay.

The center will accept many insurance plans, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, as well as offer discounts to uninsured families based on household income.

The center also will create at least six jobs. CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health plans to hire a director of behavioral health, two psychiatrists, two counselors and a program coordinator, Goropoulos said.

Center part of larger psych project

The behavioral health center is part of a program that CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health is developing in partnership with Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation called the Patchwork Quilt Project.

The Patchwork Quilt Project will provide behavioral health services and support to families and children through in-person appointments and video conferencing.

School-based services also will be offered, starting in the Lampeter-Strasburg, Penn Manor and Pequea Valley School districts. Services could be expanded to more Lancaster County school districts as the program builds capacity, according to a news release.

CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health is part of a national nonprofit  called Catholic Health Initiatives, which awarded the Lancaster nonprofit a grant of $855,000 to use towards the Patchwork Quilt Project.

The grant will be distributed to CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health over the next three years, according to a news release.

Lenay Ruhl

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