MALVERN - Chester County's new adult mental health care provider presented a program outline at the monthly NAMI meeting Thursday.

Marie Kearns, director of the Chester County program, represented Fellowship Health Resources, Inc., explaining to professionals, "consumers" and their families of the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) what the program entails.

Deveraux Services, located on Main Street in Phoenixville, which was the former adult program provider, condensed their services to deal with only children's mental health programs.

Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. has been in operation since 1975, creating programs in Massachusetts and Delaware. Fellowship, that was awarded the base services contract in Northern Chester County, began coordinating the program in November and officially opened on Jan. 1, 2004.

Fellowship professionals seek empowerment in consumers and maintain a goal of recovery, according to Kearns.

"It's not a medical model of care but rehabilitation and rebuilding of people's lives," said Kearns.

The program offers out patient services including group, individual and couples counseling, psychiatric evaluation, case management and medicinal management in addition to the psychiatric rehabilitation program.

The psychiatric rehabilitation program is a hybrid between previously provided programs called "partial" and "clubhouse." Partial programs are lead by professionals and very structured while clubhouse is largely dictated by consumers who decide what they need. The psychiatric rehabilitation program is structured and provides flexibility when necessary.

"Recovery is about not just looking at consumers as individuals but as members of a family and neighborhood," said Kearns.

The program intends to coordinate efforts and create a "chain of access" so that people are not waiting for care. The initial appointment will be made within the week that the person is referred, three too five days generally. The first meeting is with a case manager, second with therapist, then a team meeting with all departments is held to plan and inform consumer of their care.

"This is a much more user friendly system," said Kearns. "It's about getting services quickly and simply,"

A mental health care service provider's role generally is assistance after a person has an episode. If the patient is sent to the hospital, assigned a case worker and directed to county that person will then be referred to the provider for continuing care.

Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. which is a private, non profit business, plans to have a ratio of one worker for seven consumers. The majority of employees from Deveraux's adult services were hired by Fellowship to provide continuity for consumers.

"We start out smaller to make sure we do what we do well and once those programs are in place then we expand and grow," said Kearns. There are 360 active consumers in Northern Chester County.

Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. has two offices in Phoenixville, located at 300 Schuylkill Road, and 1039-1041 W. Bridge Street in Phoenixville Corporate Center.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) of Pennsylvania, Chester County is a non profit group that provides support, advocacy and education for professionals, family and "consumers" of mental health services. The national group was formed in 1979 and now has 250,000 members across the country.

Meeting, for the Chester County chapter are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, Line Road and Paoli Pike in Malvern.

NAMI Chester County, located in Frazer, can be contacted at http://chester.nami.org or 610-430-0177. Fellowship Health Resources, Inc., can be contacted at 610-933-9101 (Schuylkill Road) and 610-415-9301 (W. Bridge Street).

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