Decatur Mental Health Center
|Decatur Mental Health Center|
The Mental Health Association of Macon County was formed on Sept. 21, 1955, and within two months it had arranged space for a clinic at the City Public Hospital -- better known as the city contagion hospital, located on the campus of Decatur Memorial Hospital (then Decatur and Macon County Hospital) at 400 W. Hay St. According to April 12, 1956, Decatur Herald, D.W. Lynn Smith reported the Macon County Mental Health Clinic had seen its first patient and two others had appointments. The number of patients quickly grew larger than the staff of two could handle, and the clinic even suspended service in July so the staff could take vacations.
By January 1957, there was a waiting list and budget problems: The state only released $10,000 of the $54,000 promised. It was the beginning of a theme that continues today. But money pitfalls have also never stopped the clinic from pushing for more services. A year after reporting budget deficits in 1965, the clinic expanded service to patients in surrounding counties thanks to a tax referendum passed in 1966. After mostly just outpatient services up until then, by 1970, the clinic served more than 1,500 clients and provided additional services like day care, emergency services, consultation, substance abuse treatment, a halfway house for alcoholics, after care for those leaving state mental hospitals, and an outreach worker for the poor.
The next 20-plus years were probably the smoothest in the center’s history. By 1980, under the direction of Anne Menz, a crisis hotline was added and there were more than 2,000 clients. In 1982, the center began establishing apartments for clients who previously had been in mental hospitals. While the center continued to sustain financially with the establishment of Medicaid as a pay source for many low-income people with mental health problems, outside forces caused the biggest upheaval in the center’s history. It began in 1995 with the closing of the Adolf Meyer Mental Health Center, which caused an influx of patients to the Decatur Mental Health Center. Right when the center had adjusted to that, in 1996 DMH decided to tear down the old City Public Hospital building, where the center had been located for 40 years.
The Decatur Mental Health Center was forced to relocate to the old Meyer Mental Health Center building, where the Decatur Correctional Center is now located on East Mound. It was there for about a year but was moved out when the women’s prison came in to being. The center was forced to move to the old Decatur Herald building at 357 N. Main St. while it renovated the former Quigle’s building downtown. On Jan. 5, 1998, it was announced the Decatur Mental Health Center would move into the former Quigles building, 151 N. Main St., and change its name to Heritage Behavioral Health Center. At the 50-year mark, in 2006, Heritage served more than 7,000 clients and had a staff of 210.