ASHLAND East Ashland is a neighborhood where drug addiction and alcoholism isn't some abstract concept, but a very real fact of life.
The blue collar neighborhood is home to many families trying to make a life worth living. But there's a lot of people without hope, a lot of people who are struggling out there — you might see them walking up and down the street carrying all their belongings in a backpack.
The Rev. Stanley McDonald, affectionately called Rev. Mac, sees it from his pulpit at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located in the heart of East Ashland along Carter Avenue.
“Our community is hurting, there's a lot of families who are hurting and are ashamed to ask for help,” McDonald said.
To that end, Pathways has launched a mobile behavioral health clinic to travel to underserved areas like East Ashland, partnering up with local health departments and other entities like the church.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Pathways To Go RV sat in the parking lot of the church, as a part of an open house to show the public what it's all about.
Terrell Ethel is a peer support outreach specialist who will drive the RV that will act as a command center for hope and change in people’s lives.
Ethel, himself a recovering drug addict, said the idea is to get out into areas where people might not know about the services they can receive from Pathways.
“Being in recovery myself, I can relate to them and tell them my story. It's different than going into an office and talking to someone there. More people are at ease here,” he said.
At the open house, people were already receiving services — one man was filling out a form for obtaining Narcan, an overdose antidote, while another person had asked for resources to get into recovery, according to Ethel.
By setting up in areas like the east side of Ashland, Olive Hill and Mount Sterling on a regular basis, Ethel said he hopes to build rapport with people and get them the help they need.
Jennifer Willis, the CEO of Pathways, said the mobile clinic will offer much more than behavioral health and recovery services. Equipped with hot spots, it will allow patients who live in areas that have limited or no internet access to access telehealth services.
“When we look at our most underserved communities, it is minority communities and people who live in rural areas with no transportation,” Willis said. “If you have transportation issues, if you don't have a tablet or any internet, you can't access telehealth services. The important thing is providing consistent services to people so they can get help.”
Willis said the RV was paid for by a grant from Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, which administers federal funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The concept of bringing the services to the sick and suffering out there was tried in New York state — Willis said research showed that program showed results.
As a certified behavioral health center, Pathways can use the mobile clinic as a one-stop shop for folks by partnering with primary care physicians.
“We can oversee their care whether it be substance abuse, behavioral or physical health by partnering with these providers,” she said. “This clinic can be the point of contact for our clients.”
Pathways serves Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Lawrence, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan counties with mental health, intellectual and developmental disability support and substance abuse treatment. Throughout the area, Pathways oversees more than 30 facilities.
Pathways offers a 24/7 help line at (606) 324-1141 or at 1-800-526-8909. Appointment scheduling can be done at 1-866-233-1955.
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