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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New county building brings health services to Merrifield area

The interior of the building has a nature theme.

Staff from various mental health, substance abuse, and other programs operated by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board have begun moving into the agency’s new building at 8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive in Merrifield.

Staff from youth services programs began moving in first in mid-January. When everyone’s been relocated, the building will have some 400 employees, including staff from the Woodburn Center in Annandale and other sites in Fairfax and Falls Church.

The main reception desk.
Lyn Tomlinson, assistant deputy director for Acute Therapeutic Treatment Services, and Robert Moore, operating manager for the building, took the Annandale Blogger on a tour of the mostly empty building on Jan. 15.

The 200,000-square foot Merrifield Center houses 13 programs from seven sites, including services for adults and youths battling alcohol or drug abuse or/or mental health issues and individuals with intellectual disabilities.  

A classroom for youths in recovery.
The program focusing on day treatment for youths includes classrooms for students age 13-18 staffed by teachers from Fairfax County Public Schools.

There are separate programs for women and men in recovery, because “gender-specific treatment is more successful,” Tomlinson says.

A watery mural creates a calming atmosphere.
The Community Transitions and Forensic Services department provides mental health and substance abuse assistance for people re-entering the community after serving time in jail.

Moore pointed out the nature-focused design features inside the building, including large murals of flowers, water scenes, and the like; soothing colors from the natural world; and lighting colors that can be adjusted to create a certain mood. It was designed by Huelat Davis, an Alexandria-based architectural firm that specializes in creating environments focused on healing.

The Merrifield Center is near Route 50 and Gallows Road.
“It’s all designed to be calming, welcoming, and inviting,” Moore said. The building also has sustainability and energy-saving elements, such as a rooftop system to collect stormwater and motion detectors that turn the lights off in vacant rooms.

And because of the nature of the clients served in the building, there are a lot of security features, such as cameras and controlled access with badges required to move from one area into another.  There’s a police sally port for people arriving via ambulance or police cruiser at a separate emergency services entrance.

A waiting room.
The emergency department is open 24 hours a day, all year long. It’s staffed by clinicians trained to conduct evaluations for hospitalization, said Tomlinson. Among people they treat are those who feel like they want to harm themselves or are actively psychotic. Some people come on their own; others are brought by the police or family members.  

A pharmacy and primary health care center, staffed by physicians, will open soon, offering one-stop shopping, so clients will be able to get a physical exam, mental health evaluation, and prescriptions without leaving the building.

A reception desk.
On the first floor, there’s a peer resource center, where people struggling with mental health or substance abuse can receive support and mentoring from former clients with “lived experience in recovery,” Tomlinson said. Former clients teach classes, conduct wellness groups, work one-on-one with clients currently in recovery, and help with computer skills and job searching. 

CSB clients pay for services according to a sliding scale based on income, and services are available for clients’ families, as well.

A place to relax at the rear of the building.
The CSB continues to operate programs in Annandale, Springfield, the Route 1 corridor, Reston, and Chantilly, so people in those areas needn’t make the trek to Merrifield.

A grand opening ceremony for the Merrifield Center is scheduled for March 27.

1 comment:

  1. Very fancy. Very nice. Looks like a great facility. Now why do we need a $120 million east county office building at the Willston site?