PAINTED POST, N.Y. (WENY) - CareFirst, formerly known as the "Southern Tier Hospice and Palliative Care Agency" has partnered with, Family Services of Chemung County to provide mental health services at their clinic located in Painted Post. 

In honor of National Mental Health Awareness Week, The Clinic at CareFirst hosted its grand open today.

"Basically, it is an expansion of our previous grief services program that was open to the allowing us to provide expanded mental health support for people who are dealing with advanced illness,care giver challenges and other kinds of grief and sudden traumatic loss," says Chelsea Ambrose, Director of Counseling and Collaborative Services at CareFirst. 

After nearly two years of program development and negotiation, The Clinic at CareFirst will be able to provide grief counseling and different types of support through professionals who have a specialty in dealing with advanced illness management and grief.

"This is the first collaboration between a mental health clinic and a hospice in New York State and one of the first in the country...both agencies bringing their new skill sets to the table to help the people in need," said Ted Kordel, Executive Director at Family Services of Chemung County. 

According to CareFirst, Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties have the highest mental health needs in the Finger Lakes area. Also, one in four Chemung County residents report experiencing 14 or more poor mental health days given in a month, which is double the rate of upstate N.Y. as a whole.

"They're being an early leader in regards to making mental health and medical conditions one of the same. There should be no difference between if someone suffers from a mental health condition, its just the same as having a medical condition in my opinion," said Congressman Tom Reed. 

The Clinic at CareFirst anticipates to serve approximately 25 clients each week. Future plans for growth in 2019 are also expected. 

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