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MUSCATINE — UnityPoint Health-Robert Young Center has expanded its behavioral health and substance abuse services in Muscatine. The new outpatient clinic will offer services for adults, children and adolescents, including psychiatric evaluations, medication management services, and individual, family and group psychotherapy.

“Unfortunately, Muscatine has not had a lot of services over the years,” said Dennis Duke, president of Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health. “We've considered it a desert in terms of behavioral health services. As we stair-stepped our way into providing more services, it was in the direction of meeting the needs of the community there that have just not been met over the years.”

He said that began by asking what the community’s health needs are.

“What was staring us in the face?” Duke said. “What was the most urgent need we had?”

Muscatine, he said, was at a point of crisis. People would go to emergency rooms that lacked someone trained as a behavioral health professional.

“We started with that and built off from there,” Duke said. “We started doing outpatient services. That’s what we are doing through the integration with UnityPoint Clinic.”

Duke said the new services are a starting point.

“Today, we are opening a full-service mental health clinic that will establish a foundation, not just for today, but something that we can build off of into the future as we continue to identify with the leaders down there what the needs are,” Duke said.

Duke said the new facility will integrate substance abuse problems with its behavioral health resources.

“Oftentimes there are those co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues,” Duke said. “In terms of the providers that we will have available, that will include psychiatric nurse practitioners that will be able to prescribe medication and then we will also be utilizing licensed mental health professionals. Both clinical social workers and clinical counselors. The ability to bring behavioral services together, that's the opportunity to provide a more effective treatment from an integrated viewpoint.”

"With this addition in close proximity to where they are, we will be able to have greater integration with the mental health aspects," said Heather Olson, director of substance abuse treatment services at the extension. "That means that with some folks we will have the ability to address both issues together."

Duke said developing behavioral services over time will lead to better health outcomes in the future.

“While this is a big step, it by no means is going to fill all of the gaps,” Duke said. “There is still work to do.”