By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Among the items on the agenda for the Tuesday, July 10 meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court was a presentation from Houston County Burke Center Representative Willa Wooten.

Wooten began by extending gratitude to the court for its financial contributions to the Burke Center, saying that programs provided by the center would not be possible without the court’s assistance.

Wooten went on to provide information on eight of the programs which are offered by the Burke Center as a result of such financial aid.

“Research supports us that if we service students or children from birth to age three that we are ahead of the game,” Wooten explained. “So, we have a program called Early Childhood Intervention.”

Wooten also discussed the outpatient services offered to adult patients in the area.

“Those are the services that we stress – the wellness education and psychiatric services, counseling and nursing,” she said. “The adults here in Houston County really benefited from those services last year.”

Also mentioned by Wooten was the Mental Health Emergency Center, located in Lufkin.

“Sometimes, we have an emergency here in Houston County that we can’t accommodate,” she pointed out. “So, the Burke Center steps in and helps with that.”

Other services by the Burke Center include the Mobile Crises Outreach Team.

“Personally, I know several people from Houston County that have accessed that service,” Wooten shared.

As Wooten pointed out, many clients of the Burke Center suffer from substance abuse issues and benefit greatly from the specialized services tailored to them.

“We also have integrated care, which is where we provide both mental and physical health services,” Wooten continued. “And we provide developmental disability services for children and their family members.”

Overall, Wooten described the organization as being “on a good road.

“I’ve been on the board for many years,” she said. “I’ve seen growth in the services. I’ve seen changes in what Burke provides for the clients.”

Accreditation from the Joint Commission was recently obtained by the Burke Center, Wooten said.

“They (representatives of the commission) come in without any notice, and they just tear your organization up and check and see,” Wooten explained. “We had very few items that we needed to redo or make improvements on.”

Wooten expressed a desire on behalf of the center “to do more on addressing the needs of the clients in the 14 counties we serve” in the future.

“We have all eight of these programs set in stone for this coming year, and we hope to add more,” she said. “We have gotten some assistance for veterans services; we know that’s one of the things we need to focus on.”

Wooten also praised the “capable staff” employed by the Burke Center.

“We have a lot of technology that we can use to address the issues,” she said. “And that’s what we’re all about – addressing the issues and needs of our clients.”

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.