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Meridian in the News

A Place to Go for Help

Nov 11

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Monday, November 11, 2013  RssIcon

Meridian Health offers mental health, drug counseling

By BILL HYDEN

Among programs of Meridian Health Services is substance abuse treatment for Henry County residents struggling with addiction or mental illness.

CJ Johnson, regional manager of Meridian Health Services, said he was greatly irritated by the misconception that no substance abuse treatment programs locally.

"When I read somewhere that no drug addiction therapy is available for local residents, I was in total disbelief," said Johnson. "This organization has resources to help. We have behavior clinicians who visit people at their homes. We have a bus driver to pick people up. Just understand that we are here to help."

Meridian Health Services focuses on patients' physical, social and mental well-being, according to the organization's website. Meridian is located at 930 N. 14th St. in New Castle as a staff comprised of roughly 30 people, according to Gerry Cyranowski, vice president of clinical services.

"Our policy is open access. If someone knows that their child is struggling with drugs, they can come in anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and in the afternoons from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.," said Cyranowski. "We will help set up ongoing treatment."

Johnson said Meridian has a policy of helping clients regardless of ability to pay.

"We are here for people who need help and will set a pay system based on a sliding scale that is tied to income," said Johnson. "I've always instructed my staff to make an appointment with people on the day they arrive in our office. We try our hardest to help the moment you arrive."

Ann Stevenson, a therapist at Meridian, said ample drug treatment options are available for adults as well. She said the programs are designed to reduce the prevalence of drug abuse in Henry County and surrounding areas.

"We have adult intensive outpatient services. One is six weeks long a group of day and night patients meet three times a week for three hours," said Stevenson. "In these sessions we cover everything from the disease aspect of addiction to relapse. We also show how drug addiction affects your different physical and mental systems. We also give our clients homework to complete."

Stevenson said Meridian also offers an eight-week drug relapse prevention program upon completion of intensive treatment.

In addition to providing drug abuse therapy and treatment, Meridian provides mental health services through the Connxxions program. Johnson said that program helps people with mental disabilities develop critical life skills through working with therapists.

"Case workers will even make home and school visits if necessary," said Johnson. "We try to assist in helping people learn what they need to succeed on a daily basis."

Meridian also assists Henry County Hospital staff with the treatment of mentally at-risk patients according to Johnson.

"If emergency room personnel are unsure what is going on with a patient there, then our therapists will make an assessment," said Johnson. "From this assessment we might recommend that the patient is placed where he or she can receive help from a psychiatrist, but it's often hard to find room in those facilities."

Johnson said law enforcement officials, judges and probation officers in Henry County often refer people to Meridian. He also said that the New Castle office is in the midst of a makeover of sorts.

"Remodeling should start Oct. 28 as we will spruce up the building," said Johnson. "It should be done sometime early next year and we will have an open house at that point."

Meridian is also raising money for the United Fund of Henry County this weekend through a car, motorcycle and bicycle wash. People of all ages are encouraged to bring their rides to the facility Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"I think it reduces patients' anxiety when they feel welcome at an office," said Johnson. "The staff does a great job of that here and everyone's hard work makes it easier for me to go into the community and inform the public about the options available here."

Bill Hyden is a staff writer for The Courier-Times. Follow him on Twitter @BillHyden.

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