Hospitality workers have mental-health access through Mercy Family Center

Photo Courtesy Mercy Family Center

Providing  mental-health services to the community has been Mercy Family Center’s aim since Sister of Mercy Sarah Ducey and Mindy Malik, both Ph.Ds, founded the program in 1992.

Whether through outpatient psychiatric services, therapy and counseling or school- and community-based trauma services, Mercy’s compassionate care has helped many local children and adults.

To maximize its reach to those needing mental-health services, Mercy Family Center has garnered partnerships in the community, such as its partnership with the 504HealthNet that directly assists hospitality industry workers in finding health care. A new initiative, Healthy Hospitality, links these workers directly to mental-health services.

Working in collaboration

The 504HealthNet, created in 2008, is composed of 27 local nonprofit and governmental organizations that provide primary or behavioral health-care services mainly to low-income, under-insured or uninsured populations. It was the result of Hurricane Katrina rendering almost a quarter of local residents without insurance but still in need of health care that had mostly been provided by the Charity Hospital system before the storm wiped it out.

Mercy Family Center’s executive director Rex Menasco is on the board of the 504HealthNet.

“This is the first time we have created programming to prioritize this hospitality population and provide services directly due to the 504 membership,” Menasco said. “We’re trying to create more services for this population because we feel there is a big demand for mental-health services within the hospitality community.”

Mercy Family Center will create a Healthy Hospitality Walk-in Clinic at its New Orleans clinic, 3221 Behrman Place, suite 105, on the West Bank; (504) 376-2590.

“We’re looking at mid-September to open the walk-in clinic,” Menasco said. “The great thing about this partnership is that we will meet a need of a population that needs this service.”

Working with 504HealthNet aligns with Mercy’s core values that “honor the sacredness and dignity of every person, its commitment to serve the poor and most vulnerable, and foster right relationships to promote the common good.”

Menasco said Dr. Aisha Phillipson, a psychiatrist at the Mercy Family Center’s West Bank location, was familiar with walk-in mental-health clinics, having worked in one in Brooklyn. Her interest in creating one through Mercy Family Center will come to fruition with this initiative.

Mondays have advantages

Initially, Menasco said Mercy Family Center plans to provide services once a week – possibly on a Monday when many restaurants are closed. To reach as many hospitality workers as possible, Mercy is working with the 504HealthNet to gather names and is partnering with the HealthNet’s navigator to get the word out to these workers who most need mental-health services.

Mercy Family Center keeps alive the mission of the Sisters of Mercy, founded by Catherine McAuley in Ireland in 1831 with the goal of caring for the poor. The Mercy Health System has 345 clinics and 40 hospitals in the U.S.

Its three locations in New Orleans are at 110 Veterans Memorial Blvd., suite 425, Metairie, (504) 828-8283; Mercy Family Center New Orleans, 3221 Behr­man Place, suite 105, in Algiers (504) 376-2590; and Mercy Family Center Mandeville, 1445 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville, (985) 727-7993.

To reach the Healthy Hospitality website, go to Contact the 504HealthNet navigator at (504) 507-9112. 

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