Lancaster Physician Spring 2020 - 13

SPRING 2020

P

eople from Amish or conservative
Mennonite communities who
are struggling with mental health
challenges such as depression or
anxiety often travel from as far away as Canada
to come to WellSpan Philhaven, just north of
Mt. Gretna.
There they can stay at Green Pasture, a house
nestled near a pond and a small barn on the
Philhaven campus while receiving treatment
from the WellSpan Philhaven Plain Communities Outpatient Clinic.
Inside Green Pasture, there is a hallway with
bedrooms for men and another hallway with
bedrooms for women, with capacity for 16
people in all. A central room has comfortable
chairs, where a group of men is quietly reading
as the sun streams in large windows early on a
Monday morning. Downstairs is a large kitchen
and gathering room, emitting the lingering
smells of a warm breakfast.
During the day, the residents, who are at
Green Pasture on a voluntary basis, walk across
a parking lot to participate in regular rotation
of group therapy, individual therapy, meetings
with psychiatry staff about medications, and
classes that teach them skills like mindfulness
or recovery from depression. All activities are
overseen by the licensed therapists and providers at WellSpan Philhaven's Plain Communities
Outpatient Clinic.
In their free time, residents take twice-daily
walks, often walking with two mini ponies,
one named "Blackie," and the other named
"Bronco." They play volleyball, quilt, and
garden in warmer months.
Volunteers come to help do laundry, bring
food, and clean. Staff, members of the Plain
community, provide housekeeping as well as
encouragement. They take turns staying in
the house and providing around-the-clock
support and assistance.
Begun in 2005, Green Pasture and the
Plain Communities Outpatient Clinic is a
partnership that grew out of the realization that
there was a need for behavioral health care in
these unique communities with unique needs.

Blackie and Bronco, two mini ponies, go for a stroll with Green Pasture residents.

"Local Amish community leaders recognized
that growing need, and they wanted a partner that would understand and respect their
culture and their values," said Ben Keener,
senior director of the WellSpan Philhaven Plain
Communities Outpatient Clinic.
WellSpan Philhaven was well-positioned
to help the Plain community due to its own
history. Founded in 1952, Philhaven was begun
by a group of Mennonite men, who served as
conscientious objectors during World War II,
staffing state mental hospitals. After the war,
the group believed they could find a better
way to provide professional care for those with
mental illness.
Over the years, Philhaven developed a continuum of mental health services for patients
of all ages in more than 50 programs in more
than 20 locations in Lancaster, Lebanon, and
York counties. Services include hospitalization,
day programs, outpatient counseling, and
programs in the home, school, and community.
After being approached by members of
the Amish community in the early 2000s,
Philhaven entered into a partnership with
the community to support Green Pasture.
Philhaven supplied the land. Members of the
Amish community from southcentral Pennsylvania supplied the materials and the labor
to build the home.

LANCASTER

13

PHYSICIAN

Since Green Pasture opened, WellSpan Philhaven has supplied the licensed professionals,
therapists, and psychiatrists who provide the
services. They also provide a service coordinator,
who screens potential residents to ensure they
are the right type of person for Green Pasture
or identify if they might benefit more from
inpatient treatment at WellSpan Philhaven's
nearby hospital.
Once a resident comes to Green Pasture,
their community plays an important role,
supporting their treatment and their transition back to their home and family. The
average length of stay was about a month for
the almost 300 people who came to Green
Pasture in 2019.
"People feel at home here," said David King,
a member of the Amish community who serves
as the home's administrator. "Their meals, the
rooms, the interaction with the staff all help.
"This is a place for people to be in a culturally friendly atmosphere while still getting
the professional help we believe is necessary,"
King said. "It is a good place to go for help."
Other members of the Plain Community-generally Amish and conservative
Mennonite people who eschew cars, electricity,
and technology to focus on their faith and
families-travel from nearby communities to
receive therapy and medication management
from the program.



Lancaster Physician Spring 2020

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