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'A vital need:' New partnership adds mental health counseling to Good Samaritan care services

Cullman Times - 8/1/2020

Aug. 1--Cullman'sGood Samaritan Clinic formally cut the ribbon this week on a new partnership that adds mental health care services to the nonprofit's menu of free services for local uninsured patients who cannot afford to pay.

Good Samaritan board members joined clinic director Jolanda Hutson Friday at Haven Counseling Services at Vinemont, where the clinic's leadership met with Haven owner and counselor Mandy Wilhite, along with members of the Vinemont town council. Together, they officially cemented the new arrangement -- which owes its existence to charitable funding from the Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund (SKG).

Named in honor of late Cullman attorney Steve Griffith, the fund was set up in June of 2018 by Steve's wife Jackie, son Wyles (Brandy) Griffith, and daughter, Sarah Frances (Donovon) Lovell. Steve was killed in July of 2017 by a man with a history of mental health issues, according to law enforcement, and the fund aims to raise mental health awareness and fill a gap in local mental health care services, especially among the indigent population.

Wilhite, a licensed social worker and West Point-area native, said it's an honor to work with the Good Samaritan Clinic to bring mental health counseling to the clinic's slate of pro bono services. "They're a great organization, and I'm just so happy and honored to be a part of their mission," said Wilhite. "Our partnership has already started, and I believe this helps to fill a vital need in our community."

To qualify for mental health counseling through the new arrangement, patients must first apply for and qualify for services through the Good Samaritan clinic. If a nurse practitioner deems a referral necessary, the clinic will schedule an initial appointment for the patient with Haven Counseling Services.

Hutson said the clinic has long sought to serve patients in need of mental health counseling, and credited the SKG foundation for providing the means to get the new partnership off the ground.

"I can't say enough how grateful we are for having this opportunity," said Hutson. "Mental health care is an area of health care that's often under-diagnosed and under-provided, and there's especially a lot of overlap between the indigent patient population we serve and the need for better identification and treatment. We've already begun referring patients to Haven Counseling Services, so, with the foundation's support, we've already begun taking our first steps to addressing mental health as one of the referrals we're able to offer to the local people who come to us for care."

The Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund is administered through Garrison Gives Hope, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible as allowable by the IRS. To learn more about the Fund, including ways to contribute, contact Meagan Tucker at 256-255-5547.


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