Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers has opened a new behavioral health clinic on National Avenue with the goal of increasing access to services for South Side residents.
The clinic, at 1635 W. National Ave., offers behavioral health services, including substance abuse programs and psychotherapy. Specialists from Sixteenth Street work alongside care coordinators from the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division to provide comprehensive community services. It opened last month.
The clinic has five outpatient providers, including two therapists, two substance abuse counselors and one nurse practitioner. In addition, the clinic has three people from the Behavioral Health Division’s care coordination team.
Sixteenth Street shares the space with the Behavioral Health Division, which is using the building as its Access Clinic South.
Maria Perez, vice president of behavioral health for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, said the clinic expands the number of providers available to the community.
“We know folks who struggle day to day with financial barriers and language barriers struggle to get these services,” Perez said.
Kenneth Ginlack, director of outpatient services at the Behavioral Health Division, said having a clinic on the South Side will help reduce transportation barriers and provide patients a place where they can be treated by someone who looks like them.
“The more barriers a patient has, the more risk there is of them not continuing treatment,” Ginlack said.
Patients treated by care coordinators will be referred to permanent mental health providers. They may also be referred to have their prescriptions filled in the meantime at the clinic, he said.
Perez said that there has been an increase in the demand for mental health services during the pandemic. COVID-19 presents a double-edged sword: Some people in the community are struggling with unemployment, while others are dealing with having a job that exposes them to the disease.
Perez said school closures have also provided stress, as parents have had to adapt to home-schooling their children and finding internet connectivity to ensure the kids get their lessons.
Ginlack said the county placed its access clinics in the areas where they received the most mental health crisis calls. The 53204 ZIP code, where the clinic is located, had the highest rate of crisis services usage out of any ZIP code in the city, he said.
Therapists at the clinic can treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other behavioral health needs.
Those who are referred to care coordinators will be assessed based on their needs and referred to permanent mental health providers.
Ginlack said care coordinators from the Behavioral Health Division can also refer patients to resources for other needs, such as housing and food assistance.
Robert Beach, a community lender with Forward Community Investments, an organization that helped fund the new clinic, said officials hope the site will serve over 800 individuals.
“This clinic is not only an entry point but a way to connect them with any other services they may need,” Beach said.
For more information
The National Avenue Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 414-672-1353