A nonprofit, community behavioral health agency serving central and northeastern Connecticut hopes to break ground this fall on a new $6.7 million outpatient mental health clinic in Manchester.
Connecticut’s State Bond Commission approved $3 million in April for Community Health Resources (CHR) to build a 30,000 square foot clinic at 444 Center St., a vacant lot behind Superior Court, once the site of the former Willie’s Steak House. A commercial loan and fundraising will make up the difference in the cost of the project which has a fall 2014 projected opening. CHR bought the 1.89-acre lot in December 2012 for $410,000 from Homeowners Finance Company of Wethersfield. The location is convenient to Interstates 84 and 384.
“Everybody in the area knew of Willie’s Steak House. A lot of people had their proms there,” says CHR Vice President of Business Development and Communications Alyssa Goduti.
The new three-story clinic will nearly double the size of CHR’s leased clinic at 587 East Middle Turnpike. About 150 staff employed at that site will relocate to the new facility and another 20-30 new permanent jobs will be added. The site does not yet have a name.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in demand, particularly over the last several years,” Goduti says, adding CHR’s requests for adult services increased more than 40 percent while children’s services increased 12 percent over the last two years.
“We’ve really outgrown the space,” Goduti adds. “Our parking lot is prohibitive Sometimes people can’t find a place to park and that becomes a challenge. We want to make it as welcoming as possible.”
The new clinic will integrate primary health care into CHR’s behavioral health programs. Currently, clients are referred out to a federally qualified health center or primary care physician, but their clinician can’t always be sure such recommendations are followed. That will change when a nurse practitioner or doctor is in the building to address physical ailments.
“Walking them right down the hall and bringing them right to those services improves their health and improves the likelihood of their following up with their primary health care needs and really addresses their total wellness,” Goduti says.
CHR was still in the design phase in June with Paul B. Bailey Architect LLC, the same firm that designed CHR’s Center Street Apartments at 587 Center St., a 20-apartment complex for low income residents and homeless individuals in need of mental health services that opened in January 2012 and is a third of a mile away from the site of the new clinic.
Goduti says the new clinic will have separate entrances for the adult and children’s clinics, more natural light and better soundproofing. Energy efficiency is another priority.
CHR offers more than 80 mental health, addiction treatment and supportive housing programs serving approximately 14,000 children, families and adults in Manchester and about 50 surrounding towns. The agency employs nearly 700. Psychologists make up a small proportion of current staff and have also been used on a consultative basis.
By Janine Weisman