By Jasmine Willis
AVON — A new Noyes Mental Health and Wellness facility is breaking ground at Tech Drive in Avon.
The ceremony was held on June 16 to usher in a new start for the mental health community. The Dansville Noyes Mental Health and Wellness facility has been a guiding light for those in need, but there is still a strong need growing in the region. The Avon location is scheduled to be open in the fall.
Noyes Health CEO, Chad Teeters talked about this important project at the ceremony.
“It is a pleasure to have so many come out for the next phase in Noyes Health’s development and the next phase of broadening health care delivery in Livingston County. We want to extend our mental health offering to the larger extent of the community. It is in greater need now than ever before. This is a signature piece of Noyes Health. We have our mental health clinic in Dansville. That has grown in just a few years to seeing more than 25,000 patients. Some of that need has become so overwhelming that there was an ask in the community and physicians in the area to extend,” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic I think we are all aware of the strain these events have put on community members and mental health. It is part of everyone’s overall health. All of us are aware of the stigma attached to mental health for many years. We are bringing this health care to the community in a non-stigmatized way. This is very important to us. None of this is possible without the dedication of our workers and the community. Joining us is Ann and Carl Myers. They are long time benefactors of Noyes. Many of you know about the cancer center, which is a huge gift to the community. They once again stepped up with a very large contribution that allowed us to go forward with this project.”
“Elizabeth Green was a well-respected member of the community, and we are giving her special recognition on this project. She was a respected member of the Avon Central School and died tragically a couple of years ago. There is a special dedication in Elizabeth’s honor due to the importance of mental health and the support she had for children. We will work on continuing the causes she held so dear to her heart. We will create an outdoor space to memorialize Elizabeth and what she stood for in this community,” Teeters added.
Elizabeth Green, 42, of Pavilion passed away on Feb. 4, 2019. She was a beloved school counselor at Avon Primary School. She initiated the “Backpack Program” at the primary school. She was a trainer for 18 years at Livingston County Violence Prevention. Elizabeth is survived by her husband, Tim and two sons Gavin, 3 and Austin, 7. Linda Griswold and
Roger Griswold, Elizabeth’s parents attended this ceremony with her sister, Amy Leone.
“The reason we are here is because of Amy Pollard. She told us about this operation, and it meant a lot to her to get this started. Ann and I thought why not? We are very grateful to have been asked. I know the cancer center has been a much larger benefit than we thought. I think this will be the same. We know they will get the job done right. They are good people,” Carl Myers said.
Roger Griswold had a few words to share about the pillar his daughter was to the community.
“I think someone has some good luck looking down on us. Elizabeth loved the outdoors, being in nature, and she would love this day. She would love to be out kayaking, hiking in the woods, and being with her friends. I want to thank everyone who made this mental health center possible. When our family found out the center was going to honor our Elizabeth we were truly lost for words. We had already been aware of the impact she had on the school district by the outpouring of love shown to us by her colleagues. We were aware of the impact she made on the mental health community when we met with Lynette Green and Amy Pollard,” he said. “This was 18 months ago and before the pandemic. We knew she was involved in Anti-Bullying and Violence Prevention in Livingston County. I know Elizabeth would be humbled by this ceremony. She never sought out praise for herself. She always tried to help others find solutions for their health. She understood we all need guidance and someone to listen. Elizabeth had a saying ‘Choose to be kind’ she thought we could make a difference in each other’s lives by listening.”
Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Medical Director, Robert Whelpley gave insight on the importance of this facility.
“Pretty soon we will have a building that will be taking care of all our mentally ill in this area. We have such a demand we can’t keep up with it. It is really a huge problem. I see two main barriers for care of the mentally ill. One of them is access. This building will help with that. There are not enough psychical locations or providers out there to see all the people. With covid you have seen our numbers go up tremendously with mental health. The other barrier is stigma. There is a lot of people out there that need care, but they don’t seek it out. There is guilt or shame about seeking out mental health. Someone would never not go to the doctor about chest pain or a broken arm. They think it is somehow their fault they have a mental illness. Society doesn’t want me to have this mental illness. Somehow, I should be able to take care of this on my own. Someone won’t seek care for depression or suicide, but it is just as dangerous as a heart attack,” he said. “We are changing that in this building. You go to other places that put their mental health in the basement and it is dirty. It tells them they are not important. At Noyes the commitment to mental health impresses me. I am excited about the beautiful building in Dansville and it helped the patients and changed how they see themselves. Everyone knows someone who has mental health issues or has them and this shows how we care about them, and their issues are just as important. I love that we are honoring Elizabeth since I am a child psychiatrist myself. She engaged with them in a way that made them feel comfortable about seeking help.”
Amy Leone said her sister always loved helping children. She was very touched by the support for Elizabeth.
"She was always involved in helping out children. She went to college for social work since she was very passionate about it. She grew up in LeRoy and worked at the Avon Primary School. She raised her sons to be respectful of others. Everyone in the community is deeply touched they are doing this for my sister. She was an amazing counselor at the school," she said.
The next projects include the Jon Shay third floor project at Noyes Health by the fall. The new Geneseo building will be available by the end of the summer.