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New Newark clinic aims to bridge gap in behavioral health

The goal of the Care Now Clinic is to offer support to those facing mental health or addiction challenges.

NEWARK, Ohio — When Jonathon Giffen accepted a job painting a new office in downtown Newark, he just racked it up as another win for his company, Giffen Painting and Powerwashing.

But he soon learned this project would mean so much more.

As he painted the walls gray, he learned what would soon inhabit that space – an urgent behavioral health clinic.

“I was really proud at that moment in time to find out that I was going to be a part of this whole thing,” Giffen said.

When he was young, Giffen lost his wife to cancer. And, just a few years ago, he lost his brother to suicide.

“Immediately when she told me what this place was going to be, my thoughts went there because, if we would have had something like this, it could have helped,” Giffen said.

Giffen believes his brother could have found the help he needed at the new Care Now Clinic, operated by Behavioral Health Partners of Central Ohio. It opened Nov. 8, and the interest was clear.

“We had three people waiting on our first day, at the door, for us to open the door,” said Dr. Kate St. James, president and CEO of BHP. “To me, that says very clearly that people have really needed and wanted this level of service in the community.”

The goal is to provide urgent care for anyone facing a mental health or addiction challenge. The clinic offers a place for immediate intervention with access to services and the coping skills to connect with ongoing services.

“The national average for wait time to get into a therapy appointment is over six weeks, and people give up, I mean, that’s just too long,” Dr. St. James said. “If you had sprained your ankle or broke your arm and you had to wait six weeks for care, you would just give up at some point and just hope that things would get better. But we want to make sure that people have an avenue to get in.”

An important feature of the clinic is that no one will be turned away, regardless of ability to pay. BHP will work with the patients who have insurance or public assistance and offer sliding fee scales based on need.

“We know that people are waiting,” Dr. St. James said. “They’re waiting to get into treatment, and they want to get into treatment, but there’s just not been the availability, and we see this really as a bridge for them.”

The clinic is open Monday through Friday right now, but there are plans to expand hours. BHP also will be opening a similar clinic in Mt. Vernon in January.

The entire effort is something Giffen fully supports.

“I know that this place will provide that for people and with any sort of problems that they’re having, stress, anything really, any sort of mental health issue, and that’s tremendous, so that’s one reason why I was really proud to be a part of all this,” he said.

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