PrairieCare expansions mean promising new health care

The PrairieCare center for outpatient therapy is making expansions and adding two new branches, along with changing to better facilities in the fall, all to change the game for college age students with mental health needs.

The new programs that launched in January are for a more intensive approach to college-age programs.

The facility, which is the first of its kind in Mankato, is dedicated to young adults and children needing outpatient care for mental illnesses, addressing these needs with a more intense and hands-on approach to caregiving. It gives individual psychiatric care to children (5-12) and now college age adults as of 2018.

“It has been talked about at least for six months. PrairieCare just opened up in August. [We] always wanted the plan to expand but weren’t sure how it would work. But we knew we really wanted the college demographic,” said Natalie Jech, a psychiatric technician and Community Relations coordinator for PrairieCare Medical Group. “When the site first opened, we started with the first child care program for kids who aren’t doing well in their home/school environment. The schedule involves school for half the day and then therapy for the following half. We have a team with a psychiatrist in a setting where they can observe the patient throughout the day. Child services are not up and running yet due to the move in locations in the fall to help with the number of kids we anticipate seeing.”

Moving just a few blocks from the current location, the new location will be on 120 East Main Street. The new space will have therapy rooms, a classroom, patient care station and a gross motor area.

“The outpatient program sets them apart, giving more intensity and frequency to the a program that is typically more sporadic. It is designed to help keep people out of the hospital after getting them out,” said Jech. “Giving these patients the tools that they need to have in their academic endeavors. Mental health is not talked about enough and 22 percent of young adults have mental health disabilities. The program helps to keep people from feeling alone and helps people come together to overcome the mental illness as a group. It allows the experience of learning as a group and learning from those around them, while also having individual therapy for more private issues.”

The program is available to anyone, with schooling not a requirement to join. There is a screening process to see if the intense level of care given at the facility is required on a patient-to-patient basis, but the screening is free. If a patient does not qualify for the program after the screening, the care center gets them connected with other resources for less intense care tailored to the needs of the individual.

“You don’t have to be in college to attend this. If you are a young adult being held back by the mental health, this is a resource for you to accomplish your goals in work or in an attempt to get to school,” said Jech. “Free needs assessments are for everyone and there is a screening process to enter the program but it also helps them get connected to outpatient therapy.”

For more information or to set up a screening, call PrairieCare’s main number, 507-322-5464

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