Clinic facilities

Outpatient psychiatric clinic comes to Moravian Main Street campus

St. Luke’s University Health Network opens its sixth outpatient psychiatric office on the Main Street campus of Moravian University in Bethlehem.

The clinic deepens the existing partnership between the university and the health network by allowing Moravian clinical counseling graduate students to work and learn alongside St. Luke’s psychotherapists. The new collaboration was announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

St. Luke’s psychiatric offices in Moravian will be staffed with two full-time psychotherapists, who will serve children and adults in the community while working closely with students.

“This facility further demonstrates (St. Luke’s) commitment to the community,” said Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian University. “The opportunities this will provide our graduate students to see this practice operating right here on campus, serving the community at large, is invaluable.”

First-year Moravian graduate students will follow counselors in their day-to-day therapeutic work, while second-year students will follow a formalized internship program, said Jessica Marino, who will serve as the Moravian-based office’s practice manager. The goal is that ultimately the partnership will produce more trained counselors who stay in the area to help meet the growing demand for psychological services.

The new Moravian Campus location helps the network meet growing community demand for mental health services, said Amie Allanson-Dundon, psychotherapist and network director of clinical therapy services for St. Luke’s.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people seeking psychotherapy, and we know part of that is due to the (COVID-19) pandemic,” she said. “When you think about the socio-economic stressors and personal difficulties that many people are going through, after more than two years of battling this pandemic… it definitely increases the need for more services. And that piggybacks on the normal depression and anxiety that people experienced before Covid. Right now the demand is more than anyone in the valley is capable of.

One bright spot is that it appears the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment is eroding, Allanson-Dundon said. And the pandemic has led to an increase in virtual care allowing professional therapists to reach more patients without the barrier of physical access, a press release said.

“People aren’t shy about going to therapy anymore,” she said. “And in the medical field, we see more and more specialists and family doctors using mental health services to treat the whole person. As more and more people understand the benefits of psychotherapy, they are more willing to do it.

The office will be located at Benigna Hall, 150 W. Elizabeth Ave., the former headquarters of the Moravian Graduate Admissions Programs. This team is moving to another building on the Main Street campus. There is no opening date for the new establishment yet.

St. Luke’s currently operates outpatient psychiatric offices in Phillipsburg, Bethlehem, Allentown, Carbon and Bucks counties.

The university and St. Luke’s partnered in 2015 to create a new Sports Medicine Center in the former 24/7 Fitness building at 1441 Schoenersville Road in the city. Currently, Moravian offers tuition discounts for St. Luke’s employees and a special RN to BSN program path for students at St. Luke’s School of Nursing.

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Sara K. Satullo can be contacted at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com.