Mental health clinic slated for W. Salem

WEST SALEM -- Polk County Mental Health is preparing to open a satellite clinic in West Salem later this year.

WEST SALEM -- Polk County Mental Health is preparing to open a satellite clinic in West Salem later this year.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved a lease for

more than 5,000 square feet of space in the Oak Hills Mall off Edgewater Street near Safeway in West Salem in March.

Geoff Heatherington, the county's mental health manager of administration, said opening a West Salem clinic has been a goal for several years.

"We've had discussions for a number of years," Heatherington said. "I found the location (in West Salem) just as the economy tanked, so we decided to hold off. We began discussions again late last summer."

With the exception of 24-hour crisis management services, which will be run elusively out of the department's main office, the clinic will offer the same mental health counseling, addiction treatment and medication management that can be found in Dallas.

"They can get the same array of services they get here," Heatherington said.

Polk County Administrator Greg Hansen said the lease will cost about $5,000 per month. However, the county is working on agreements with other non-profit mental health service organizations to sublet space to help cover costs.

Heatherington said there is a great need for a clinic in the West Salem area to ease the burden for those who have to travel into Dallas for appointments. Public transportation is a challenge as people have to catch a bus for an appointment and wait a few hours to be able to go back home. The new clinic location was in part chosen for its easy access to public transportation.

"We have lots of (West Salem) clients who indicate that it's a long way out here," Heatherington said.

County officials also hope to provide assistance to clients who may be seeking help outside of the county now.

"We have a significant number of Polk County residents going into Marion County to get service," Heatherington said.

Hansen said Polk County belongs to a five-county mental health service consortium that is set up in a way that if a client living in one county seeks services in another, the county in which the person lives in is charged for the client's care.

With a large number of Polk County clients crossing the river into Marion County out of convenience, Polk has been paying Marion on average about $500,000 each year.

"Over time, we hope it (the clinic) will be able to reduce that," Hansen said. "Our other goals are to provide better service to our clients and establish a presence in West Salem."

Heatherington said the county clinic will be the only one in the West Salem area offering comprehensive service to people of all ages.

There are two other clinics, one run by Easter Seals, which treats children, and another called the West Salem Mental Health Clinic that treats adults. Neither have addiction treatment services, he said.

Plans are being drawn up and building permits secured to add office space and have the clinic ready for clients. Hansen estimates it will take more than two months to prepare it for opening.

"Hopefully we will be serving clients by July 1," Hansen said.

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