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NEW HUMAN SERVICES OFFICE HAS PLENTY TO OFFER CITIZENS

The new Brookings office of the Curry County Human Services Department showed off the many programs it can offer the community at an open house Monday.

The facility at 306 Wharf Street offers citizens everything from adult and child mental health therapy to drug testing, addictions treatment, and marriage and family counseling.

Human Services Director Deb Wilson said that prior to 1997, the department treated only the most chronically mentally ill patients.

That all changed in 1997 when Curry County joined Jefferson Behavioral Health, a six-county mental health organization which provides an array of mental health services to Oregon Health Plan members.

Human Services also takes private insurance and has a sliding fee scale for citizens. Wilson said the department now helps the walking wounded, ordinary people who need a little help.

Addiction treatment services were added last year when Human Services took over the function from a private firm that pulled out of Curry County.

The additional burden gave Human Services the opportunity to get into its new state-of-the-art facility on Wharf Street.

The state gave Human Services $50,000 for infrastructure to get its addictions program up and running.

When Wilson shopped around for a building, she found that contractor Jim Hargrove had just built one on Wharf Street.

Hed not yet finished off the interior, so Human Services could design what it wanted.

The building was later sold, but Wilson hired Hargrove and his sons to finish the interior to her departments specifications.

She said the $22,000 price tag felt very fair.

The contractors heart was in it, she said.

Of the rest of the state money, $10,000 went to remodel the Gold Beach office, with the balance going into infrastructure like a new phone system and new computers.

Human Services rents the Wharf Street building for $2,800 a month, but $300 of that is paid by Oregon Services to Children and Families, which has one office in the building.

Wilson said her department was previously paying as much or more for rent in two separate buildings in Brookings.

The new building is as tastefully lighted and furnished as any private doctors office.

The people that we serve need to feel valued and respected, said Wilson. This is a professional building and it needs to look like it. We dont want people to feel worse when they walk through the door.

She said Human Services is not about sickness. Its about wellness.

She said the location is great. Its an easy walk for many Brookings residents. Wilson and her staff gave tours to city and school district officials, along with interested residents.

The spacious reception area immediately inside the front door is walled off to protect employees, yet has enough windows to make them accessible.

The adjacent waiting area is stocked with toys like Lincoln Logs to entertain younger clients.

One of the larger offices in the building is the expressive-therapy room for youngsters.

Wilson said young children cant always express what is going on with words, but therapists can learn a lot by how they play.

A doll house helps children recreate family scenes. Therapists also learn from how children play with the sand tray.

What they put in it and how they organize the toys can also send messages. There are also costumes so children can dress up and act out parts.

Even though the therapy can uncover problems in the home, Wilson said few families object. She said even parents with lots of problems care about their children. They just dont always understand how their behavior affects children.

Dr. Jean Hale said childrens therapy is best done in coordination with supportive family therapy.

Wilson said its also hard for victims of addiction to get well without family therapy.

Private insurance and the Oregon Health Plan doesnt pay for therapy for the family of addiction victims, said Wilson, but fortunately, a grant does.

The building has more than 10 offices branching off in two wings from the central reception area.

One of the offices is rented by the state Services to Children and Families. Wilson said Human Services works with some of the same clients as the state agency.

She said if clients agree, Human Services can invite other agencies to participate in the initial assessment.

A one-way mirror separates the office from a family therapy room. It allows therapists to observe without being part of the interaction. Sometimes its the therapists who are being observed.

There is also an adult expressive therapy office. Adults can sometimes express their feelings more clearly through art.

The building houses a marriage and family therapist, as well as an addiction therapist. It also has a group therapy room.

Amenities include both public and employee rest rooms, wheelchair accessible, and a smaller rest room useful for drug testing. Clients dont have to parade sample cups through the public area.

For information, or to make an initial appointment, call (541) 469-9513.

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