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Clarion County Human Resource Plan Targets Needs: Personnel Shortage, Transportation, Bed Bug Issues

Friday, July 29, 2022 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

human services planningCLARION, Pa. (EYT) A lack of mental health providers in Clarion County, a shortage of personnel, transportation needs, and bed bugs were some of the things mentioned at a public hearing conducted on Wednesday morning for the 2022-23 Clarion County Human Services Plan required by the Commonwealth.

“We’re here today to talk about the county human services plan for fiscal year 22-23, and we always want public input,” said Marci Hall, administrator for Clarion County Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Early Intervention.

“If anyone has any ideas as to what you would like to see in the plan, we want to know what the public thinks.”

One major problem facing human services is the declining number of mental health providers in Clarion County.

“We’re working with BHARP (Behavioral Health Alliance of Rural Pennsylvania) and the managed care organization to bring more mental health providers into the county.

“That’s at the beginning stages, but we have talked with a few providers and CenClear is going through their licensure to provide outpatient mental health services. Once they’re approved by the state, we should have another outpatient provider for mental health services.”

That would include counseling, psychiatry, and medication management, according to Hall.

Human Services is also in the beginning stages of finding another provider, American Behavioral Health Systems, Inc. (ABHS), for intensive behavioral health services.

The search for another provider in the county for children and adolescents is because Clarion Family Therapy Inc. will be closing its IBHS (Intensive Behavioral Health Services) program next month, leaving Family Psychological Associates as the lone provider.

“We’re looking for more providers, and hiring the workforce in all of the human services is a struggle,” continued Hall. “It’s extremely difficult to hire and retain staff, and that’s not just in human services. You see it everywhere; we’ll be working with BHARP and the state on ways to recruit and retain staff.

Most of the current staff have local ties that have drawn them to their jobs, and a few of them were literally born in the Human Resource Building on Seventh Avenue when it was Clarion Hospital.

“We have someone in the final stages of developing another supportive employment program for developmental disabilities. It’s all about maintaining what we’ve got to serve the individuals and their needs.”

Another project under the radar for mental health is writing a plan for housing grants, forensic transitional housing for individuals coming out of incarceration or the state hospital, or long-term structured residences that have nowhere to go. Hall has had preliminary talks with Tricia Pezutti, mental health deputy administrator, and a plan could provide supportive housing while they are employed so they could find their permanent housing.

Discussions and suggestions among the health services staff ranged from transportation needs, housing, and even bedbugs and lice.

Bed bugs

“We do provide peer support services now in the three counties,” said Chris Luzier of Roads to Recovery. We see quite a bit more people in Clarion County with bed bug problems than Jefferson and Clearfield Counties.”

“That’s definitely something that we could have a conversation about for individual cases. Thanks for bringing that up because when you are in public housing and identified bed bugs, you are compromising your housing,” said Hall. “In moving forward, we will be looking at how can we better serve individuals who need housing because maybe they don’t have access to the Clarion County Housing Authority.

Transportation is also a concern for Human Services, even with a county transportation system and contracts with taxi services and buses. Some help is needed just to get people to the grocery store. The word is not getting out to clients and communication also needs to be improved.

Participants in the meeting included the following:

• Marci Hall, MH/DD/EI Administrator
• Jen Klingler County DD waiver coordinator.
• Cindy Kinsler, County DD quality assurance risk management
• Dan Grover, program director at the Center for Community Resources
• Julie Patrick, Early Intervention Coordinator
• Liz Schmidt, County the MH/DD/EI department and transportation administration
• Tricia Pezutti, MH Deputy Administrator
• Sandy Ion, Human Services Fiscal Officer
• Chris Luzier, Roads to Recovery
• Jennifer Krouse, Human Services Program Specialist
• Diana Thorpe, Family Psychological supervisor, and medical crisis with CCR.
• Christine Mickey, CASP (Children and Adolescent Service System Program), coordinator for Clarion County, facilitating inter-agency meetings

“I don’t want to speak for everyone, but there are not enough hours in the day to tell you how the people that showed up here today are really working hard to make the community safer and help people get on the road to wellness by channeling the proper resources to them. When we know about a need, we take care of it,” stated Hall.

“We work for the people of Clarion County.”

The plan must be turned into the state by August 19. The completed plan must be approved by the Clarion County Commissioner and will be published on the county website.

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