Logan Mingo Area Mental Health has undergone a lot of change over the past couple of years. With hiring the new CEO Donna Cooke, new staffing opportunities, required higher education for employees and more, the company seems to be on an upward spiral.
Although LMAMH started as two separate agencies, they now work as sister agencies and have been around for approximately 50 years.
“We certainly have changed what we do from back in those days. And we certainly have changed what we do in the last year and half since I became the CEO here,” Cooke said.
Cooke describes herself as a big dreamer, her staff agreeing whole-heartedly, but sometimes it takes a big dreamer to instigate change. And she is all about changing LMAMH for the better.
“So many folks don’t know what we do here at Logan Mingo Mental Health and part of what we’re doing is just trying to get the word out,” Cooke said. “We’re trying to get more involved, more engaged, with the community that we serve.”
That heightened involvement includes an array of new services that LMAMH recently announced are underway, along with improvements to some of the older services.
One of the most anticipated programs is called Buddy Packs.
Buddy Packs is a program designed to benefit students at local elementary schools and LMAMH’s Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) clients.
The program, which will begin with three local elementary schools and expand across Logan and into Mingo County as soon as possible, will send backpacks filled with nutritious meals and snacks home with students. The packs will be filled and distributed by LMAMH’s I/DD clients.
“A big part of this is integration,” Employment Specialist Tommy Boling said. “We believe that everyone who wants to work should have the opportunity to work.”
This program gives the I/DD clients a chance to help the community, but to also sharpen skill sets that employers look for in the workforce.
But the vision does not end with the Buddy Packs. Cooke, Boling and the rest of the LMAMH staff hope to expand the Buddy Pack services into a Food Pantry, and eventually a Food Bank that will receive funding and food from the government.
A place where hungry citizens and families around the community, no matter what age or circumstance, can come for food. A place where local churches, high school students and activists can volunteer their time to help the community. And a place where the I/DD community will be integrated into open jobs as well.
Other new and/or improved programs include:
• Step by Step: an intensive outpatient program designed to cut down the prison population, reduce recidivism and promote recovery and reintegration. The program lasts a minimum of six weeks and is open to those who have been convicted of or are facing felony charges, have a high risk to re-offend and have a problem with substance abuse. The program will work closely with probation officers and the drug courts.
• Loved Ones Group: an 8 week group session that meets for 45 minutes weekly. This program is strictly for families of people who struggle with addiction in hopes to help them understand and deal with the pressures involved.
• New Store: the store will be similar to Goodwill and will focus on integrating the I/DD population into society. It will not be a workshop, but a store hiring citizens outside of the I/DD population as well. Employees will be paid minimum wage at least. Cooke says the store will have a monthly turnaround of products so the selection will always be new.
• Family Support Program: this program will help I/DD families with grant money received from the state. Participation is not income-based. It will help families who need gas for doctor appointments, clothing, etc.
• Children with Disabilities Community Service Program: a program designed for children with developmental physical impairments that provides the child with a Medicaid card. For more information, contact Barbara Miller.
• West Virginia DUI Safety and Treatment Classes: all participants must take 18 hours of education. Some may be required to participate in subsequent counseling. This program is now being offered at the Mingo facility in Chattaroy. LMAMH is excited about this addition because it cuts down on cost and inconvenience for participants who live in Mingo County.
• Transportation: thanks to a state funded 5310 Transportation Grant, LMAMH has acquired the funds for a minivan to help transport individuals who need access to services but have limited transportation. The grant also allows them to provide transportation for a parent or guardian of a child who is covered by Medicaid.
• SBIRT: this is another new program thanks to state provided grants. SBIRT is a brief screening tool (5-10 minutes) that will be used in local high schools to screen students for drug/alcohol dependency. The schools chosen are Chapmanville, Tug Valley, Mingo Central and Man. LMAMH is in the process of hiring someone to run this program in each county.
• Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT): patients who require MAT have two choices, Suboxone (daily) plus therapy to wean the patient off of medication completely or a monthly Vivitrol injection. Cooke says the process has changed from “I’m going to go in and get my Suboxone and that will be all until next month” to a more closely evaluated and monitored process. The Suboxione will not be given to patients who refuse therapy, and each patient is subject to a random, monthly drug test. A patient who has successfully completed the Suboxone treatments is a good candidate for Vivitrol.
• Crisis Services: services are available after hours and during holidays for those in serious crisis. The Telephone Numbers for Crisis Services after hours are 304-792-7130 for Logan County and 304-235-2954 for Mingo County.
Cooke says it is important to meet the community where they are at, whether that be extending their hours, changing their DUI classes or anything else. She says it is important for them to get out of their box.
“We have to ask ourselves what does the community need and how can we service them,” Cooke said.
Although there are so many new things happening at LMAMH, the goal of the staff is simple: make the facility the best and first choice for citizens of Logan, Mingo and surrounding counties. For more information about the programs and services of LMAMH, call the Logan office at 304-792-7130 or the Chattaroy office in Mingo at 304-235-2954.