Prestera CEO Karen Yost on Prestera Center at 50 Years
May 02, 2017
50th Anniversary for Prestera Center
Huntington, WV: Prestera Center has been leading the way in community-based comprehensive behavioral healthcare services since 1967 - for the past 50 years! Each year, over 20,000 individuals, children and families across nine counties in West Virginia receive compassionate care from 700+ staff helping people achieve their full potential. A full-range of services is offered to adults with behavioral/emotional health problems, substance abuse problems, children’s mental health issues, intellectual/developmental disabilities, homelessness, joblessness and hopelessness. Prestera provides personal care homes, groups homes, substance abuse prevention services, professional treatment services, medical services, emergency services, peer support, long-term and short-term residential programs, intensive outpatient and less intensive outpatient, justice reinvestment programs and partnerships, permanent affordable housing and supported housing.
Prestera Center programs are life-saving for many vulnerable people living in our community who have few resources and few positive relationships. Prestera staff often fill the void when there are few friends and family. Without Prestera programs and services, many people would be lost to live out their days in large institutions without the rights and freedoms that living in the community provides. Isaiah lives in a Prestera Center group home after developing problems with hearing voices that commanded him to hurt other people as a young adult. Isaiah takes medication every day that helps him with what he calls “psychosis”. He says he understands his symptoms and has learned how to control his behavior when he feels himself getting angry. He is almost 40 years old today and he credits Prestera Center for helping him leave the state psychiatric hospital after many years and become a productive and successful person. Isaiah says Prestera helps him manage his money and provides him spending money. Isaiah has a job that he loves through Prestera’s employment programs. He says he loves working because he gets paid and has extra money he can spend. He completes chores at his group home and is responsible for cleaning his laundry and his room. Isaiah says, “Prestera straightened me out with my anger and got me better prepared to live out in society. Without Prestera, I would be hearing voices, in the hospital or in jail. I would be a lot worse off.” Prestera Center considers it an honor to serve people like Isaiah and help them find happiness in a meaningful and satisfied life.
Mental health treatment services continue experience the highest demand, while the need for more addictions treatment services have spiked. Thirty years ago, Prestera offered only outpatient counseling for substance abuse problems, added a halfway house for men known as the transitional living house (that today is known as Laurelwood) and had just begun a DUI safety and treatment program to help people with a DUI conviction have their driver’s licenses reinstated. Today there is a full continuum of care for people experiencing addiction problems. Prevention services help prevent alcohol and drug problems from starting in the first place. Detox, short-term residential treatment, intensive outpatient, treatment for co-occurring disorders, long-term residential treatment, recovery housing, recovery coaching, medication-assisted treatment, early intervention programs, employee assistance programs, recovery housing that’s permanent and other services are available across the region. New partnerships have resulted in programs that divert adults charged with a crime from being convicted when they complete treatment, prevent people from returning to prison after a relapse and provide treatment services to individuals sentenced to local day report centers and other community corrections programs.
Prestera Center has counselors in every school in Cabell County and some schools in Wayne, Kanawha and Boone Counties in WV. Placing counselors in schools ensures that children have access to behavioral health experts. The “Handle with Care” program rolling out to many counties in WV allows the school to be notified when law enforcement has been called to a home where children are present and those children may be struggling at school the next day. Prestera counselors are available at school to check in with children experiencing disruptions at home. In-home intensive services are available for families that need additional help. Prestera staff work intensively around the clock in a special program called “Safe at Home” to maintain children at home in their community when they have been removed in the past. As a community-based provider, Prestera Center is always working to prevent hospitalization or out-of-home placements, as much as possible, so long as it is safe for people to remain in their community and at home.
Keeping a business open for fifty years presents challenges, especially for a non-profit organization. Prestera Center has expanded over the years in response to needs identified in the community. Prestera’s success is attributable to a variety of partnerships and support from individuals, other local organizations, local governments, state government, area businesses, and the community at large. In the beginning and for the first 25 years, Prestera Center was completely dependent on state funding. Today, people continue to receive services regardless of their ability to pay but reliance on state funding has been surpassed by billing insurances for treatment services. Fundraising is more important than ever before and we are thankful for the community’s generosity. One thing is sure as we look toward the next fifty years: Prestera Center will be here, in our communities, leading the way with high quality behavioral health services for everyone. For more information on Prestera Center, visit www.prestera.org and follow us on Facebook.
Director of Corporate Development
5600 US Route Sixty East
Huntington, WV 25705
(304)525-7851, Ext. 1505
Cell: (304) 741-3616