BERWYN – A proposal to put a mental health clinic in the Berwyn Elk's Lodge building cleared its first major hurdle when the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to recommend the City Council amend zoning codes to accommodate the plan.
Pilsen Wellness Center is seeking both a conditional use and public service use amendment to operate the medical center at the Elk's Lodge building, 2600 S. Ridgeland Ave., which is located in a C-1 Limited Commercial Zoning District.
ZBA members Richard Bruen, Dominck Castaldo, Don Miller, Alicia Ruiz Doug Walega, Chairman Joel Chratska and Secretary Lance Malina voted in favor to recommend approval. Board member Don Miller voted against the favorable recommendation. The decision followed a packed public hearing Feb. 18 where representatives of the Pilsen Wellness Center, which operates several clinics, one in Cicero, presented the plan to open a clinic in Berwyn and provided a detailed explanation of what services will be offered.
What will not be offered, representatives made adamantly clear, is a rumored methodone treatment program, a key point of contention with many residents in the Fourth Ward.
Jessica Cummings, corporate counsel for the wellness center, said the Berwyn location will provide outpatient health services but will not provide any methodone treatment program, and that the Wellness Center was prepared to legally stipulate that there would be no methadone program on-site as a condition to the zoning change.
A resident asked during the hearing if the wellness center decided at a later date to offer a methadone treatment program at the site, how would the city know.
Cummings said such a program would require licensing from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and that if a license was applied for, the city would be notified by the DEA.
Cummings said the clinic would primarily offer one-on-one mental health counseling for children, as well as parents, family counseling for such disorders as depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and counseling for battered women.
Catherine Rocha, a licensed clinical professional counselor and director of Mental Health Services, also emphasized that no medication will be dispensed at the site.
Rocha further explained there was great need for the clinic and has letters of endorsement from District 100 Superintendent Stan Fields and Youth Crossroads Executive Director David Terrazino.