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WellSpan Health opens innovative mental health and addiction clinic in York to serve vulnerable patients with coordinated care

May 24, 2021

Patients receive access to a variety of treatment, human services and other critical needs to promote best possible outcomes


START clinic team members gather outside of the facility to ceremonially cut the ribbon to an innovative one-stop clinic for vulnerable patients with mental health and substance use disorders.

START clinic team members gather outside of the facility to ceremonially cut the ribbon to an innovative one-stop clinic for vulnerable patients with mental health and substance use disorders.

WellSpan Health announces today the opening of a new and innovative one-stop clinic for vulnerable patients with mental health and substance use disorders. Called START (Specialized Treatment and Recovery Team), the clinic provides a coordinated care experience for patients with urgent mental health and addiction needs. The program surrounds them with the right resources and services they need in the right place, at the right time, while reducing trips to the emergency department.

“At WellSpan Health we are committed to finding a better way to care for our community, and the START clinic’s unique approach ensures we are treating the whole person,” explained Roxanna Gapstur, PhD, RN, President & CEO of WellSpan Health. “We’re honored to be able to see WellSpan’s mission in action with this $4 million federal grant - to promote lifelong wellness and healthy communities.”

“The services at the clinic allow us to improve access to care for those with mental health and substance use disorders, and also address the issues of chronic disease, housing, income and other factors that impact the health of individuals in the York community,” said Mitch Crawford DO, medical director of addiction services for WellSpan Philhaven.

The certified community behavioral health clinic office is located at 605 S. George St. in York and opened to patients on May 3. The program began seeing patients remotely in December 2020 due to the pandemic and has already treated over 400 individuals since that time. It is the first of its kind in southcentral Pennsylvania to provide a comprehensive range of services to vulnerable individuals including faster access to psychiatry and therapy services, substance use screenings, as well as increased screenings for food and housing insecurity and referrals to support services.

A diverse team of clinicians and staff have been intentionally recruited to operate the clinic as an inclusive environment for treatment of complex patients of equally diverse backgrounds.

“We want to support our patients so they can attain the same goals and dreams we all share: healthy relationships with family and friends, a place to call home and work that allows us to contribute to our community,” said Michele Crosson, START’s director.

WellSpan Philhaven is focusing its efforts on York, where 35 percent of residents live below the poverty level, according to U.S. Census figures. County health rankings also show there is a shortage of mental health providers, with just one provider for every 920 residents. In York County, more than 65 percent of residents also reported at least one day of depressed symptoms in the previous two weeks, according to the York County Community Health Needs Assessment.

The clinic works closely with many community partners to make sure the patient has access to the appropriate plan of care, including:

• York County Probation
• York County Mental-Health/Intellectual-Development-Disabilities
• York County Drug and Alcohol Commission
• York County Veterans Affairs
• Black Ministers Association
• Rabbit Transit
• Rainbow Rose Center
• Latinos Unidos
• Crispus Attucks
• Bell Socialization Services
• MidPenn Legal Services
• TrueNorth Wellness
• Family First Health
• York County Human Services.

WellSpan’s START program also partners with Community Action for Recovery and Diversion (CARD), an initiative focused on individuals with substance use issues and mental health needs who are involved in the York County justice system. The goal of this partnership is to help people receive treatment, not incarceration, when they are charged with minor crimes that are related to mental health or addiction illness.

“Getting these individuals the treatment they need is first and foremost,” explained York County Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock. “If we can divert them from the criminal justice system, then it benefits our whole community.”

The START clinic employs 25 team members and provides whole-person treatment to all clients by offering screening, assessments and diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorders, as well as primary health care screenings. It provides patient-centered planning, psychiatric rehabilitation, crisis mental health services, peer support and intensive community-based care for veterans.

The program utilizes evidenced based approaches to care such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, medication-assisted therapy for substance use, illness recovery model, among others.

In addition to the $4 million grant for START, WellSpan has received $4.1 million in federal grants and Pennsylvania Opioid Response grants since 2017. WellSpan also has received grants to support medication-assisted treatment for people with opioid use disorder across Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. The grants support increased access to treatment and recovery support for those individuals.

Click here for more information about START.