NHS Health Services of Northeastern Pa. held an open house at its new downtown location on Tuesday afternoon, May 8, with company representatives taking local officials and other visitors from the community on a tour of the state-of-the-art facility.
“It’s going to allow us to better serve our customers and the community,” offered Gail Learn, director of adult services for NHS, a company which provides a wide array of mental health treatment services.
She noted that the new facility at 30-32 North Main St., the old Newberry’s building, has enabled NHS to increase the number of offices, offer greater accessibility to the community, and improve security. NHS was previously located in the former Carbondale General Hospital on Fallbrook St., where it took over for Tri-County Human Services in 2008.
“We had really outgrown the space,” Learn related of the Fallbrook St. site.
The $3 million construction and relocation project was facilitated by a private development company owned by Mayor Justin Taylor, who explained that he was concerned NHS would move out of the city if an adequate new location couldn’t be found for the firm in the downtown area. With the company employing 160 full-time and 225 part-time and other employees, Taylor said he felt that would be too big a loss for Carbondale to take — especially at a time when other major employers were struggling due to the poor economy or, as in the case of Marian Community Hospital, closing their doors.
Now, with what he estimates will be between 300 and 400 people in and out of the new facility on a daily basis, Taylor noted that the huge volume of traffic will have lots of residual benefits for other downtown businesses like restaurants and shops.
Meanwhile, Learn said the benefits of being in the new facility are manifold.
“There are actually two separate buildings, one of which we occupy and the other which is occupied by Tri-Valley, a subsidiary of NHS,” she explained, “with three separate floors on both sides.”
She said the total square-footage is about the same as up on Fallbrook St., although she noted that the space is better aligned in the new facility — allowing NHS to go from 56 offices on Fallbrook to 87 at the new location, and from three conference rooms to seven. She said NHS also had a leaking roof to contend with on Fallbrook Street.
Learn stated that a lot of services NHS provides are based in the new facility. However, some others go out to the community, she noted, including into the public schools and in job training at work sites for its IDD consumers [intellectually and developmentally disabled, formerly categorized as mentally retarded]. She said the firm also offers 24-hour-a-day crisis intervention services.
The advantages of the downtown location are manifold as well, she offered.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re more visible in the community and transportation is a lot easier for our consumers,” Learn related. “It also allows us to interact more closely with the community.”
For instance, she said NHS plans to provide space for artwork to be displayed as part of the annual Art Walk which will be held throughout downtown Carbondale in June.
“We want to be involved in events like the Art Walk and find ways to give back to the community,” Learn explained, “while at the same time providing all of the vital services we offer to our consumers. They’re just normal folks who are going through some difficult times, as we all do, and we want to help them and serve them in every way we can.”