Meridian Behavioral Healthcare delivering services to the area’s neediest

Located on 13 acres in Southwest Gainesville, the main facilities of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare are a busy place. As the main campus for Meridian, the complex is hoping to soon become the site for a proposed Health Home Pilot Clinic.

According to information released by Meridian, the program will provide eligible clients zwith the ability to receive integrated mental health and primary health care. Operational funds have been approved, but Meridian is seeking to raise $90,000 to build the new clinic that will treat up to 300 local patients per year.

The goal for Meridian is to offer more clinical space and administrative support for in patient detox services, a primary care clinic and a medically assisted therapy facility. The services will also segregate children’s services from adult centered treatment centers.

The children’s services will be child psychiatry, child outpatient therapy and child case management.

That new patient goal seems attainable, based on data that shows the Meridian system treated over 20,000 patients last year, with over 325,000 direct care treatment visits, according to the 2014 annual report for Meridian. Approximately 40 percent of the patients have no primary care physician and have not seen a primary care doctor in over a year.

In addition to the main site in Gainesville, Meridian also has facilities in Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee and Union counties. According to Meridian, other services are offered through partnerships and affiliations in other communities.

Meridian healthcare professionals treat a variety of mental disorders and substance abuse issues. According to Laurie Michaelson, director of marketing communications, “mental illness is quite often a co-diagnosis with substance abuse”.

At the main campus there are a variety of options for treatment, some outpatient and many inpatient beds, including crisis intervention, new mother care and treatment and facilities for government ordered confinement typically referred to a Baker Act patients.

In addition to the residential services provided, Meridian also serves a large number of outpatient services. Every day, there are hundreds of patients that show up to receive treatment for addictions. A opiate treatment clinic distributes Methedrone each day for clients who have opium-based dependency issues, according to Meridian officials.

There is a motel-like facility that rents rooms to families and individuals that are receiving care for substance abuse issues and mental health disorders. The rooms are available for long and short term residency and has 13 rooms, seven that have been recently renovated.

There are also a detox treatment center, a crisis intervention unit and a facility for new mothers with substance or mental health issues. The new mother facility allows for mothers and their children to receive care and education in a controlled environment.

Meridian is a tax exempt organization, operating under IRS Section 501(c) (3)  regulations. Typically referred to as not for profit, or non-profit, this organization if accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities International through June 2018.

The chief executive of Meridian is Margarita Labarta and 18 members on the board of directors. The largest contributors to the organization are: Richard and Pat Berne, Gainesville Television Network, Gray Construction, HOME Magazine, Ted and Hallie McFetridge, North Central Florida CPCU and the Quinn Family Foundation.

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