Kay Brooks, executive director of Aspire Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Services, spoke to the Albany Downtown Sertoma Club about the facility’s regional functions and its new name (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — A regional mental health and substance abuse facility has a new name. Known for years as the Albany Area Community Service Board, the facility is now Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Services, or simply Aspire.
“What does (the previous name) tell you?” asked Kay Brooks, executive director of Aspire, at a meeting of the Albany Downtown Sertoma Club Thursday. “Absolutely nothing, except maybe we help people do community service.”
Aspire is a public, non-profit organization providing mental health, addictive disease and developmental disability services to citizens in Dougherty, Baker, Calhoun, Early, Lee, Miller, Terrell and Worth counties. It’s mission, according to Aspire officials, is to offer those services to those who need them, and at a price they can afford.
“(Patents) can walk in and be assessed by a licensed professional, be seen by a doctor and receive medications very quickly,” Brooks said, “whether they can afford them or not.”
Brooks said that although some “psychotropic” medications might normally cost as much as $700 for a 30-day supply, qualified patients may pay as little as $7.50 for the same prescription.
The Albany Aspire facility is located at 601 W. 11th Ave. and serves patients in Dougherty, Baker, Lee, Terrell and Worth counties. A separate facility in Blakely serves residents of Calhoun, Early and Miller counties, Brooks said.
According to Brooks, Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Disabilities was moved by the recent closing of Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville, a psychiatric facility, to bolster community services for those in need.
“Maybe (a patient) just needs a temporary observation,” Brooks said, “and a hot meal, and just to know they’re safe. They can receive medication and individual counseling if it’s needed. A lot of that is crisis intervention. Something may have just blown up in their family, and they need immediate attention.”
If more extensive care is required, Brooks said the Albany facility maintains a crisis stabilization unit with 30 beds, which can house patients for up to 30 days with state approval.
Brooks said more and more individuals and families are taking advantage of the services at the Albany facility, but not so much because the need has increased.
“We’ve become more vocal,” Brooks said. “speaking at civic organizations and churches. We’re in the school systems, the Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. We work closely with Judge (Stephen) Goss’s treatment court and we do substance abuse groups at the Dougherty County jail.”
Brooks said that funding has also become available to assist homeless patients with mental conditions obtain housing, to help them stay on their medications and in their homes, and to avoid the higher level care of hospitalizations.
Brooks said Aspire maintains more than 360 employees, with some 80 percent of those at the Dougherty County facility.
Lisa Spears, coordinator of the Aspire child and adolescent program at 2500 Dawson Road, spoke briefly to Sertoma members about opportunities presented to certain “at risk” children and adolescents in the Dougherty Count area.
Spears said Aspire provides a “resiliency program,” designed to help the youth avoid out of home placements, foster care or juvenile justice involvement.
“We want to catch these kids at the place where they’re making some very poor decisions in their lives,” Spears said, “or where other people’s decisions could be very harmful.”
Aspire can be reached through the Albany walk-in crisis unit at (229) 430-1842, through the Georgia Crisis and Access line at 1-800-715-4225 or at www.behavioralhealthlink.com.s