New Dubuque walk-in clinic seeks to meet brain health needs

Center details

Hillcrest Family Services’ A New Day Walk-In Center and Telehealth Resource Network, 2005 Asbury Road, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Two months into a soft opening, Hillcrest Family Services’ A New Day Walk-In Center and Telehealth Resource Network has provided more than 100 area residents with comprehensive, same-day mental health service.

The center currently is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday but aims to one day be a 24/7 access hub for the area.

Janae Schmitt, Hillcrest’s director of certified community behavioral health clinics and community outreach programs, said the whole building — the recently dedicated Gary Gansemer Center — was designed so people can “begin their journey to behavioral health care.”

“If you come in, our services and interdisciplinary team is a nursing staff member, care coordination, peer support services, therapy and substance use,” Schmitt said. “We can do a very warm touch. We want to be inviting, to give somebody a safe and secure place to begin.”

The first staff member a walk-in client sees is a patient navigator, who will handle intake but also is trained in crisis management. The staffer also can manage insurance and other funding streams.

“What we don’t want to do is create financial barriers,” Schmitt said.

Clients then enter a triage room, where nursing staff do a health screening and check for a primary care provider or offer help finding one. A care coordinator assesses the client for factors that could influence health. Therapists then do an early session and comprehensive assessment of clients’ brain health needs.

Colors and light in the triage rooms are warm, and the décor is casual and comfortable. That aesthetic continues in what staff call the Living Room, which comes complete with plush chairs, book shelves and board games.

“Brain health is very stigmatized, so you want to feel very comfortable in your space,” Schmitt said. “… There’s nothing worse than sitting in an office and waiting to talk about something so vulnerable like a health or mental health need and feeling so clinical and so cold.”

The center opened in mid-August with no advertising or marketing. Still, Hillcrest Chief Business Development Officer John Bellini said more than 100 clients have been served just via word of mouth and partner referral.

Schmitt said hiring is underway to open the center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday within 60 days. Bellini said the eventual hope is for the center to be open 24/7.

“We believe we would hit the need for law enforcement, for different organizations where our clients often present or have interactions with,” Bellini said. “This is the more preventative, proactive way to go about that.”

Hillcrest has requested funding from Mental Health/Disability Services of the East Central Region to operate the center as an official access hub for Dubuque County. The regional governing board will meet Thursday, Oct. 28, to consider its application.