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July 5, 2014

Mental-health leader reflects on changes, goals

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County has seen some impressive upgrades in mental-health services during Sherrie Gillette’s leadership.

She is stepping down as director of the Clinton County Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services after nearly a decade and will retire to her hometown in Oneonta.

“It is certainly bittersweet,” she said of her retirement. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people (while at Plattsburgh), but I’m looking forward to going home.”

Peter Trout, a long-time administrator for Behavioral Health Services North, will take over as director of the Clinton County agency, expected on board within the next few weeks.

 

WAIT TIMES REDUCED

When Gillette first arrived in the North Country, the county’s mental-health services were overwhelmed by long waiting lists before clients could be seen by providers.

“We had as many as 150 people on the waiting list, and they were waiting up to six months and longer to see clinicians,” Gillette said.

“One of the first things we wanted to tackle was to do away with that waiting list.”

One of the answers to that backlog was the establishment of a walk-in clinic at the center’s Ampersand Avenue facility.

Clients do not need an appointment and are now usually seen by a clinician within 30 minutes, Gillette noted.

 

INTEGRATED AID

The agency merged its two separate functions — mental-health services and help overcoming addiction — following Gillette’s arrival, further improving the connection with clients.

“There is so often an overlap," she said, between mental-health disorders and addiction to alcohol and drugs. “By providing integrated services, we can more efficiently meet the needs of those people.”

The merger also translated into more efficiency in the day-to-day operations of the agency, she added. Having all services under one roof eliminated repetition in billing, reception and medical records.

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