Mental health team making progress toward better services

Miriam Campan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
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Wendy Goffena, the new counselor at the Mental Health Center, is the latest team member to address the needs of individuals who may experience a mental health crisis.
Photo by Miriam Campan

Gilles Stockton and Joshua Scotson of the Fergus County Community Council got the ball rolling in hopes of providing more services for individuals in a mental health crisis.
The pair met with county commissioners, the Fergus County Sheriff’s Office, Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs, South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center, Central Montana Medical Center, and local law enforcement, among others, in seeking the best care for individuals in a mental health crisis.
Fergus County Commissioner Carl Seilstad explained how the Jail Diversion Grant, and a second grant related to COVID-19, are helping.
He said, “We got the jail diversion grant through the State of Montana for $80,000. What this grant does is, it empowers the police department and sheriff’s office to try and get individuals treated rather than put them in jail.”

Seilstad added, “The latest grant we applied for was for $40,000 and was related to COVID. Someone with an inability to pay for services can go to the mental health center or the hospital for the treatment. Anybody that walks in off the street or is referred by law enforcement can still get the care they need. The way both grants work is, if services are offered, providers can send invoices to the County commissioners for payment.”

New staff joins team
Wendy Goffena, a master’s level professional licensed clinical social worker, was hired and began her position in late August as part of the team helping serve those who need mental health care. She will report to the County commissioners and the Community Council on how many patients she will be seeing and what those numbers look like quarterly.
Goffena is already busy meeting with the police and sheriff’s departments, the County Attorney and the courts; public defenders and other advocates, CMMC Emergency and social work departments, physicians, and medical professionals such as the Fergus County Nurses Office and the Central Montana Health District. A portion of the jail diversion grant is being used to supplement Goffena’s salary.
Goffena still has some work to do in order to receive her Professional Persons Certification through the State of Montana, before her role can come to full fruition.
She said, “I have to be certified through the State of Montana. Part of the certification process is the actual application and going before the certification committee. I have to take an exam and pass with a 90% score, along with approved clinical references.”
One of Goffena’s responsibilities will be to work with the Montana State Hospital to ensure homecoming patients are following through on their treatment plans.
Goffena is not the only team member who will be learning new skills and working with patients in the community.
In the past the Community Council was able to provide grant funding to local law enforcement for Crisis Intervention Team training. C.I.T. training is intended to deescalate an individual during a mental health crisis. Unfortunately the timing was off, and the funding wasn’t used.
Sheriff Rick Vaughn welcomes the additional training.
Vaughn said, “I would plan on doing it, but am waiting due to the pandemic and the sporadic training schedule.”



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