Citizen Advocates breaks ground on mental health urgent care in Watertown

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WATERTOWN — Construction has begun on Citizen Advocates’ mental health urgent care facility on State Street, with the official groundbreaking hosted outside the former Great American grocery store on Tuesday morning.

Officials from the Malone-based health and human services company, the city of Watertown, Jefferson County and state legislature were in attendance, lauding the company for bringing what they all said is much needed mental health care to the region.

Citizen Advocates CEO James D. Button said the facility will provide behavioral health care across a range of categories, including addiction, mental illness, crisis services and disabilities. Clinicians, nurses, pharmacists and more will staff the site 24/7. Referrals will not be required for patients to receive treatment.

“We’re open 24/7, 365,” Mr. Button said. “Two in the morning, that’s OK. Christmas Eve, that’s OK. We are here for you day in and day out.”

Work to transform the former Great American grocery store into a state-of-the-art medical clinic will take time. Mr. Button said the company is anticipating an official opening date in the spring.

It will be the latest in a string of similar facilities opened by Citizen Advocates across the north country. While this will be its first facility in Jefferson County, the company has maintained a presence in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex and Hamilton counties.

In April, the latest mental health urgent care opened in Ogdensburg, and Mr. Button said since then the company has hired more than 20 new employees and the clinic treats over 20 patients daily.

“Our case loads are strong and growing as people learn about this level of care, which we like to refer to as not quite hospital, not quite home,” he said.

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