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New residential mental health care facility opening in Fairbanks

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:02 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Alaska Behavioral Health in Fairbanks is working to develop a residential treatment center for adults experiencing severe mental illness.

This facility is the first of its kind in Fairbanks. According to Sarah Koogle, Director of Adult Services at Alaska Behavioral Health in Fairbanks, “It is something that has been needed in our community.”

Without the center, options in Fairbanks for those with mental health issues are limited. “Before this clinic, we had numerous outpatient clinics, Alaska Behavioral Health, and then numerous other agencies, and then you have the hospital,” Koogle said.

A building on Hilton Avenue was purchased to serve as the center. According to Koogle, it is being renovated to be a more therapeutic environment. “We want to make it conducive to people coming in, learning some life skills, working on their mental health, becoming stable, and then discharging successfully back into the community.”

Steve Williams, Chief Operating Officer with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, said, “Having a stable, safe home environment is really critical for an individual to be able to receive services and then progress towards their recovery.”

In August, the Trust Authority awarded a $300,000 grant to the non-profit in support of its efforts. According to Williams, “The adult residential services that are going to be provided by Alaska Behavioral Health are just pieces of an overall mental health continuum of care.”

“There’s a variety of services that are critical for individuals who experience mental health needs to be successful,” Williams said, adding, “When you have all those pieces in place, you really have the fullest potential for someone to be in recovery and to participate fully, to their fullest extent possible in the community.”

The center will be open “24 hours, seven days a week - so all day, all night, holidays, everything,” according to Koogle.

Staff must now be hired and trained. The building could open as early as November, and start with a capacity of 10.

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