Atracare, formerly Aspira Health, a full-service medical facility in Lewes, has announced its latest move to expand into mental health services.
Launched last month, Atracare mental health staff have already started seeing patients both virtually and in person. With 15 therapists currently on staff, members of the mental health team have training in a variety of areas ranging from anxiety and depression to complex trauma and addiction issues.
The need for mental health services in Sussex County has always been an issue, with much of the county underserved before the pandemic. However, as patients began to return for primary care and walk-in appointments, it became apparent that there was increased demand to address issues caused by the pandemic, including loneliness, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.
Recognizing the gap within the community in mental health services led to the creation of the department. The Atracare team prides itself on creating and identifying innovative solutions to modern health challenges, in this case, ensuring patients have timely access to a mental health care provider.
Atracare enlisted the expertise of Jennifer Wilson, LCSW-C, LCADC, to launch the program. Wilson is familiar with mental health service delivery, having started several successful facilities in Maryland. When CEO Dr William Albanese asked her to work with Atracare to help the people of Sussex County, Wilson said she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. “Jennifer’s experience and expertise is what makes her a tremendous asset to our patients,” Albanese said. “She sees mental health as a community issue rather than an individual issue, and that kind of forward thinking is what we need.”
The expansion of mental health was also discussed when Senator Tom Carper visited the cabinet on October 4. There seemed to be unanimous agreement as he echoed the need for increased access to mental health services. He has made the mental health of adolescents and children one of his priorities in recent months. Carper also spoke of wanting to increase the number of trained counselors and therapists available to individuals, especially students. He also said that the death of HB300 this year will mean more support for children.
Dr. Dane Bluestone, public health adviser and clinical mental health therapist with Atracare, discussed the need for psychological services with the senator. Everyone agreed that mental health is a pillar of the health system in the future. With a doctorate in public health, Bluestone helps launch the mental health department from a holistic approach that integrates care as a continuum of physical and mental well-being.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health in having healthy, functioning individuals who can work and lead fulfilling lives on a regular basis,” Bluestone said.
With the launch of the new department, Atracare is opening a new facility in Lewes which will be dedicated solely to mental health services.
“Having a space dedicated solely to mental health will allow our therapists to expand their services and see more patients as we begin to recognize the pain of the pandemic,” Bluestone said. “We look forward to meeting patients in our new space designed to heal by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere where healing can begin, and that’s what we will have once our mental health office opens on November 1. »
For more information or to request an appointment, go to atracare.com and click on the sanity button. From there, patients can fill out a form to request an appointment. Someone will respond to them within 48 hours. To contact the department directly, email [email protected]
“Our goal is to have patients seen within a week because we know that when there’s a problem, you want to be seen now, not three months from now,” Bluestone said. “We contact you directly to find out what drives your need, then we try to match you with someone who will be the best fit for your diagnosis. Having a large team of therapists gives us that flexibility to better match with our patients.