New center opens doors in city

Article from Carteret County News-Times
By Jackie Starkey

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ribbon cutting at new Integrated Family Services office in Morehead City

Integrated Family Services staff smile as they open their doors with a ceremonial ribbon cutting Wednesday on John Platt Drive in Morehead City. (Dylan Ray photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Health officials, advocates and the greater community welcomed mental health support and counseling services to the county Wednesday as they cut the ribbon on the new Integrated Family Services clinic.

“We’re here to be an alternative to hospitalization, to be in this community and meet needs,” IFS mobile crisis director Mona Townes said.

The center opened for business Aug. 1, and served roughly 14 county residents the first month.

Mobile crisis, their flagship service, responds to calls for help for those facing acute mental health and related episodes 24 hours a day, providing transport, triage, evaluation and access to services.

“We’re going out into the community versus scheduling appointments for those in crisis, because as we all know, crises are not scheduled,” Ms. Townes noted.

Bringing that service in county was critical, according to local health officials, as it provides a better means for diverting those in crisis to other services where possible, rather than relying on the response of law enforcement and dropping the individual off at the emergency department.

“Anytime we can open up something to help the (mental health) community, that’s great,” said Capt. Dennis Barber, who spearheads efforts for the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office to address the mental health and drug abuse epidemic.

As the public face of law enforcement on those issues, he has long advocated for providing services closer to home, rather than relying on clinicians elsewhere across the state and hoping for an open bed at a treatment center that might not materialize.

Many have repeatedly cried for inpatient, overnight services here, though there’s no progress to report on that front.

A number of local activists were in attendance Wednesday for the IFS opening, including the director of the county’s Peer Recovery Center, Bev Stone, who called the center wonderful.

“It’s much needed, we’re happy to be here. We’ve got a lot going on,” she told the News-Times.

Trillium Health Resources, eastern North Carolina’s managed care entity, is responsible for the new IFS in Morehead City, one of two facilities to open doors here recently due to their funding.

IFS officials say they are just one piece of the puzzle helping fill the resource gap here in eastern N.C. Staff noted ongoing partnerships with PORT Human Services – an outpatient treatment center also in Morehead City – emergency officials, area clinicians, stakeholders, first responders and law enforcement.

In the coming months they hope to expand their services considerably, Ms. Townes told the News-Times Wednesday.

Those plans include out-patient therapy services beginning Monday, Sept. 19, teletherapy, child and adolescent psychiatry services for children and teens caught in the foster care and judicial systems, and “intensive in-home services.”

Along with responding to the needs of those in the midst of mental health, intellectual or developmental disability and substance abuse crises, officials said they also plan to target services that reshape the county’s suicide trend.

Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death in the county, according to the 2015 State of the County Health Report, with the county’s suicide rate exceeding the state average.

“I’ve done my research, and the county’s suicide rate is 9th in the state I believe,” Ms. Townes noted. “We have to bring awareness and prevention. We have to get those numbers down.”

IFS staff said they hope to trickle into the greater Carteret community, aiming to hold forums and programs to get stakeholders and residents aware and involved.

To access services through the new Integrated Family Services office in Morehead City, find them at:
3710-A John Platt Road, Morehead City
Phone: 252-648-7850
Mobile crisis response team:

Posted in Community, Services