|The Merrifield Center building nears completion.|
The new Merrifield Center under construction on Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, off Route 50, has been designed to offer a comforting environment to clients served by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), many of whom are affected by mental illness or substance abuse.
The new building will house employees from the Woodburn mental health center on Woodburn Road in Annandale and other CSB facilities throughout the county.
|An illustration of the Merrifield Center by Jon Seagull.|
The Merrifield Center will have lots of natural light, colors from nature, and areas on the grounds for outdoor therapy sessions, says CSB spokesperson Belinda Buescher. There will also be a separate entrance and waiting room for people brought in by the police because they were acting violently or erratically.
“Consultants worked with the county to provide advice on how to set it up so walking in would not increase your anxiety,” Buescher says.
The 200,000-square foot building is scheduled to be completed in September, says Katayoon Shaya, project coordinator with the Fairfax County building design and construction department. The building’s environmental sustainability elements are expected to qualify it for a Silver LEED rating from the U.S. Building Council.
About 420 CSB employees—nearly half of the CSB workforce—will be relocated to the Merrifield Center, with the first group expected to move there in November. The top floor will be leased by Inova.
The CSB provides services for people with mental illness, substance abuse issues, and intellectual disabilities who live in Fairfax County and the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax. The CSB also operates the Infant and Toddler Connection program for children up to age 3 with developmental delays.
Fairfax County acquired the land for the new building from Inova in return for the Woodburn Center, which Inova plans to demolish to accommodate further expansion of Fairfax Hospital.
The Woodburn Center provides emergency services for people in psychiatric crisis, along with outpatient services and a behavioral health services clinic. These programs will have a lot more space in the new building, Buescher says.
In addition, CSB staff in leased space on Jermantown Road in Fairfax that provide wellness, mental health first aid and prevention services, outpatient substance abuse services, and a non-emergency call center will move to the new building. Another outpatient center in leased space in Fairfax that primarily deals with substance abuse issues is also moving to the Merrifield building.
“It will be wonderful to consolidate all of these services in one place,” Buescher said. “We’ll have staff with expertise treating substance abuse, emergency services, and a day treatment program for mothers with substance abuse issues—along with a childcare facility for the children of mothers in treatment.”
People recovering from mental illness will have a welcoming place to come for the day, have lunch, and use computers, while staff will be on hand to help them apply for jobs or find training programs. People further down the road of recovery will help newer clients.
The Merrifield Center will also have a health clinic, which will provide basic screenings, and a pharmacy for clients served by the CSB, many of whom don’t have access to healthcare.
CSB facilities at the Heritage Center in Annandale and in Alexandria, Mount Vernon, Springfield, Kingstowne, and Reston are not moving to the new building.
Whether people quality for CSB services depends on several factors, Buescher says. If it’s an emergency, everyone qualifies. In some cases, CSB might be the only place that can handle people with certain disabilities. If people have Medicaid, CSB will do the initial assessment. There’s a sliding scale to determine fees, with no fees charged to people with the lowest incomes.
Even if people ividual don’t qualify for CSB services, the agency can refer them to other services in the community. That’s critical, she said, because, “when people are encountering a particular need for the first time, it’s difficult to know where to go for help.”