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The Times
  • Samaritan starting counseling in Herkimer

  • The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley will offer counseling services in Herkimer to try to plug a gap in mental health services in the county.

    “There’s a tremendous need out in Herkimer County. There certainly aren’t enough mental health counselors to go around,” said Gregory Kovacs, Samaritan’s executive director.

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  • The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Mohawk Valley will offer counseling services in Herkimer to try to plug a gap in mental health services in the county.
    “There’s a tremendous need out in Herkimer County. There certainly aren’t enough mental health counselors to go around,” said Gregory Kovacs, Samaritan’s executive director.
    The county does offer some mental health services and there are some private mental health practitioners, but not enough to handle everyone who needs help, Kovacs said.
    The new Samaritan service opened Monday in the Oak Ridge Free Methodist Church.
    “There’s a definite need for more services in Herkimer County in the area of mental health,” agreed Terry Leonard, executive director of Catholic Charities of Herkimer County.
    Catholic Charities used to offer counseling, but had to stop the program about two years ago due to issues with funding and state certification requirements, Leonard said.
    “We were a kind of safety net here in the county,” he said.
    Samaritan has wanted to move into Herkimer for a few years, but everything came into place recently, Kovacs said. The church offered Samaritan space and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield awarded Samaritan a $3,500 community health award to pay for 230 hours of counseling.
    Many people can’t afford private therapists, sometimes even if they have health insurance because of high copayments, Kovacs said. That’s where Samaritan with its sliding-fee scale comes in.
    Samaritan will offer counseling in Herkimer once a week, although Kovacs said he hopes that will increase in the future.
    But starting a satellite isn’t easy. The Utica-based Samaritan already has satellites in Rome and Hamilton. When a satellite opens, it takes time to build up awareness and the trust needed to get referrals, Kovacs said. That’s how the Excellus money is going to help, he said.
    “What it’s going to do is get us out there and get our name out there,” he said.
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