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Good Samaritan Celebrating 50 Years of Mental Health Care

Good Samaritan Celebrating 50 Years of Mental Health Care

The Samaritan Center at Good Samaritan is celebrating 50 years of services this week. Fifty years ago, the face of mental health care in this community was very different. Patients who needed professional long-term care for mental health had very few places to turn. Local hospitals offered a few beds for mental health patients, but those were for temporary stays only. Some treatment was available in Evansville, Indiana, but that was 51 miles away, and inconvenient for families to visit. There was simply nowhere close to home for people to seek long-term, dedicated mental help for their loved ones.

By the mid-1960s, community residents were growing more and more concerned about the lack of convenient access to mental health care in the area. Thankfully, the community was able to plan and include an additional floor during Good Samaritan’s creation of the new Columbian Tower. In January 1972, the new Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) accepted its first patient and Dr. Fred Buehl was the Center’s first administrator. By the end of the first year, the Center was treating roughly 1,000 clients. The client volume continued to increase steadily, creating the need for a second office almost immediately and soon built an outpatient center to make room for expanded services. The outpatient center, at 515 Bayou Street, opened in 1982 and continues to treat clients today.

The Center grew and diversified tremendously through the years. Today, the Samaritan Center (the name changed in 1995 to reflect the growing diversification) has grown to encompass eight offices in Knox, Daviess, Martin and Pike counties in southwestern Indiana. The inpatient unit remains in Good Samaritan’s Columbian Tower and was renamed LaSalle Behavioral Health. Samaritan Center has added Riverfront Centre, The Willows – Intensive Youth Services, an outpatient office treating adults with addictions and most recently the IU School of Medicine Psychiatry Residency program. The varied offices provide discreet settings for all kinds of mental health treatment and counseling. In addition to caring for clients who are dealing with very critical mental problems, the center also provides various other therapies and services.

Not only has the Samaritan Center grown physically, the actual practice of mental health care has grown as well. When the Center opened in 1972, only a few medications were available to treat mental health conditions, and they often were less effective than medications available today. “There are a lot of new medications and treatments available now,” Michael Drake, Psy.D., Director of Clinical Operations for Samaritan Center noted. “They’ve made a tremendous difference. We’re able to treat illnesses more effectively and quicker, so we can avoid many hospital stays.” Other therapies have evolved as well. Psychotherapies, the treatment of psychological disorders by a professional technique, such as psychoanalysis, group therapy, or behavioral therapy, have changed and improved.

The introduction of community mental health centers, like Samaritan Center, played a large, direct role in changing mental health in this country. These centers gave people easier, more convenient access to mental health care, and so people are far more apt to seek treatment, oftentimes before a condition becomes critical. Additionally, options such as group homes allow more people to avoid long-term institutionalization, and stay close to their homes and their families.

“Our goal is to provide excellent mental health care, no matter how serious or how minor the illness,” Drake said. “Our staff has spent their professional life helping others. Always going above and beyond to care for their patients. It’s a pleasure to work with a group like that.”

The Samaritan Center continues to be the hub for mental and behavioral health services in the area and will continue to grow its practices to ensure it will be the leader in mental health services for the next 50 years.

“For half a century the leadership and staff of the Samaritan Center have worked diligently in providing the services needed for individuals in Knox and surrounding counties,” said Rob McLin, President and CEO of Good Samaritan. “Good Samaritan and Samaritan Center operates each day with the focus of patient wellness albeit physically or mentally. The care provided by the members of the Samaritan Center staff is second to none!”

For more information regarding the programs and services available at the Samaritan Center, please call 812.886.6800 or visit their website,