NEA Baptist to open the first grief center in the region

by George Jared ([email protected]) 504 views 

When the NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation was formed 16 years the goal was to identify health-related needs in the community and provide services to cope with them. The foundation was formed as a charitable arm of NEA Baptist. Doctors within the organization would talk to patients and there was one persistent problem – dealing with grief after the loss of a loved one.

NEA Baptist Center for Good Grief, set to open in Jonesboro, will be funded through the Charitable Foundation. The center will provide grief counseling free of charge to anyone who seeks it, NEA Baptist Marketing Director Danial Reed told Talk Business & Politics. This is the 40-year anniversary of the formation of the NEA Baptist clinic system.

“The NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation has played a key role in addressing the health needs in our region, developing programs that support the care we provide,” NEA Baptist Health System CEO Brad Parsons said. “I am proud of the foundation’s ability to continually meet the changing needs, and I know that this center will positively impact the lives of individuals and families in our community who are grieving.”

The center will be located at 1717 Executive Square, off Brown’s Lane in Jonesboro. The goal is to eventually move the center onto the NEA Baptist Health System campus on U.S. 49. The campus sits on an 85-acre swath in one of the fastest growing segments of the city. It will cost up to $300,000 per year to run the center, and the money will be raised through private donations and fundraisers, Reed said.

“We expect it to grow quickly,” Reed said.

How many people will utilize the service is not known, Reed said. There might be people in the community who’ve been dealing with grief for years, and will come for counseling. Group therapy sessions and individual sessions will be offered. Mandy Young has been hired as the center’s clinical director and two part-time counselors will be hired. The amount of money raised for the project and need will determine if more employees are hired, she said.

The center will be modeled after the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief in Memphis that opened in 2005. People of all ages are welcome. Several of the rooms will be setup as “play areas” with toys and other items for children. Children often express grief through play, Reed said. There are three such centers in the Memphis area, according to information released. Reed said this is the first grief center opened in Northeast Arkansas and maybe the only one of its kind in the state.

NEA Baptist Center for Good Grief is the latest expansion for the overall Health System in Jonesboro. It opened a $400 million hospital three years ago and initially it provided 180 hospital beds. That has ballooned to 228 beds a 27% increase, and there is room to expand by another 72 beds, Reed said. When the campus was first built it was one of the largest private capital projects, in terms of dollars spent, in state history.

Each day the hospital serves an average of 125 patients in its emergency room. The hospital’s beds are nearly filled to capacity everyday, and more than 500,000 patients are treated each year in the Health System’s clinics. The organization may announce some expansions in the coming months, including physician roster increases, but nothing had been set in stone as of right now, Reed said.

Anyone in the public whether they receive healthcare through NEA Baptist or not is eligible for grief counseling. A screening process will be utilized to determine urgent needs, Reed said.

“Grief is not a billable service,” Reed said.