Mental health clinic expands services to Hendry residents

Crossroads Behavioral Health Center's Clewiston site is located at Sugarland Highway.

Crossroads Behavioral Health Center’s Clewiston site is located at 626 W. Sugarland Highway.

Mental health issues can affect people’s lives in many ways, from mildly disruptive to life-threatening.

So when Hendry/Glades Behavioral Health Center, the previous provider of mental health services in Hendry and Glades closed its doors, it was devastating to many locals. When the program, open since 1974, could not make its payroll, it lost its Central Florida Behavioral Network, Inc (CFBHN) contract – essentially Florida Department of Families – last February.

Interim providers saw indigents only from the end of February until July 1 when Crossroads Behavioral Health Center, Inc., got the five-year contract for services in Hendry/Glades.

In 2005, Crossroads began nonprofit mental health services in Naples for Collier and Lee residents and now provides them for Hendry/Glades. Offices are located in LaBelle, 483 E. Cowboy Way, and Clewiston, 626 W. Sugarland Hwy. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Clients are seen by appointment, but walk-ins are welcome.

Both locations welcome Glades County clients.

Services are provided for the non-insured, under-insured and indigent, as well as those with Medicaid HMO Plans, private insurance and Medicare. Crossroads has a bilingual doctor and a translator for Spanish speakers.

Aware that some people in need may not have access because their insurance is not accepted at Crossroads, Chief Executive Officer Greg Fine urges prospective clients to talk to their insurance providers to get approved. Each company needs a contract with Crossroads to provide services.

With only a few months in service, Crossroads is serving the community and building its client base with less staff and lower overhead, thanks to county support through the leasing of office space, Currently, it has a staff of nine full-time administrators and clinicians and four contract part-time clinicians.

With Crossroads taking over, those with mental health issues in Hendry/Glades are again getting the support they need.

The new facility on Cowboy is spacious and consumer friendly, with a comfortable feel. The Clewiston facility is a very professional looking office. Both provide direct services, assessment, therapy and support clients with teletherapy.

Hendry County has stepped up to help provide an appropriate facility in LaBelle on Cowboy Way.

Commission Chairman Karson Turner said, “I think this is the definition of why government is not always the best at running a business. We heard from numerous entities the volume didn’t justify existence. Crossroads and their staff are engaged and growing in our community and dealing with a segment of the population that is many times forgotten about until a calamity occurs. They have a clean slate regarding operations in Hendry but are regionally known for doing a great job while increasing their footprint. We are thankful to provide help to them in the form of square footage of bricks and mortar while they help our constituents.”

Chief Executive Officer Greg Finer has a background in social work and said Crossroads is a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit which is actively recruiting local community members interested in becoming members of its board. He is looking forward to reaching out to the migrant community and using churches as points of contact to those suffering from stress, substance abuse and other issues.

Finer said he believes in cultural traditions and would like to begin a Community Family Cultural Day event with ethnic foods and entertainment, reaching out to the entire community. He said they need the community’s support, adding that the county’s support has been wonderful and includes a five-year lease on the Cowboy Way building.

Finer said Crossroads is having to adapt to survive and is working to improve Medicaid and fee-for-service.

At present Crossroads provides:

-Mental health counseling for individuals, groups, families in the home, school and community
-Psychiatric evaluation
-Medication management for Medicaid or non-insured clients
-Court-ordered substance abuse assessment – groups meet Saturday at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the LaBelle facility (the program will expand to Clewiston later)
-Parenting assessment
-Anger management assessment and
-Crisis support services

Crossroads has a school counselor position for crisis evaluation. At this point, the facility provides services to some 79 students who have been referred for conditions like hyperactivity, ADHD, poor attention and focus, conduct/anger issues or who are oppositional and defiant. Students are referred through the school system and evaluation begins. Teachers and parents are interviewed. Staff considers the child’s discipline records and, with parental consent, the child is interviewed.

Crossroads is sub-contracting with a telemedical program to serve the uninsured three days a week. Telemedical services are available on Monday and Wednesday in LaBelle and on Friday in Clewiston. Medicaid and self paid clients see the doctor on premises.

Because Clinical Supervisor Wayne Maddock has been with Hendry/Glades mental health system since 2004, he has a good handle on the needs and challenges locally. He cites transportation issues as a big challenge for the client and the service provider. He said at one time there was an RV for community outreach all set up ideally to serve people throughout the county. Such a vehicle – or public transportation – would greatly improve access for many, he said.

There were no summer appointments, he comments, walk ins only. Now, same day appointments are possible and clients are getting services faster. Of course, priority clients are triaged to determine need and be tended to immediately.

For an appointment or more information call 863-674-5012 LaBelle or 863-983-1423 Clewiston.

Crossroads personnel are busy making plans for better service in the future, including a coming partnership with United Way and working with Circuit Judge James D. Sloan to re-implement a pretrial diversity Drug Court.

Finer said he hopes to see families function better. “My vision is to see the community live better, improve quality of life.” He is aware that many people have suffered without services and his message for now is, “We are back!”

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