Health Care

D&E Counseling Rebrands as Alta Care Group

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Evolution of the services D&E Counseling Center offers led to its rebranding as Alta Care Group, a name that reflects the organization’s “high values, high quality and high expectations.”

Charted as the Diagnostic and Evaluation Clinic in 1970, Alta Care Group will serve clients through two divisions, Alta Behavioral Healthcare and Alta Head Start. It sees children, adolescents and family members through age 21.

“When I was hired, we were the Diagnostic and Evaluation Clinic. All we did at that time as psychiatric testing and evaluations,” said Joe Shorokey, CEO of Alta Care Group.

In the late 1980s, the clinic became a direct provider of mental health services for children’ adolescents and families, leading to the name being changed to the D&E Counseling Center.

“Over the years the center developed several different services and programs, including crisis intervention, case management and psychiatric services, so the D&E Counseling name “narrowed us a bit,” Shorokey, said.

The change to Alta was prompted when D&E was awarded a federal Head Start grant to provide services for Youngstown and Mahoning County.

“When that happened, we knew D&E counseling didn’t fit anymore. We began to look at how do we better represent what we believe in, who we are, what we do,” he said.

During the course of the lengthy process, what came up in the many discussions were the “high values, high quality and high expectations” of the organization, Shorokey said.

“We were looking at how we represent that,” he explained. Alto, the musical term, means “high” in Italian, and “Alta” was converted from that.

Alta Care Group has offices in Youngstown and Austintown, and operates Camp Challenge on the West Side. In addition, it operates 12 Head Start locations through the community.

Only the name organization’s has changed. Administration and staff remain the same, Shorokey said.

Alta serves clients in the city of Youngstown “but we also have a significant suburban and rural population,” Shorokey said. “We see families from as far away as Sebring and West Branch.” About 70% of the patients Alta serves are within 15 minutes of central Youngstown.

Although Alta doesn’t offer addiction treatment services, all clients age 13 and older are screened for substance abuse, he said. The clinic provides brief intervention when necessary and those clients that appear to have “significant substance abuse issues” are referred to a treatment provider.

“The main issues that we encounter are anxiety, depression and general apathy,” he said. Adolescents and young adults are “self-medicating” to cope with traumatic experiences, family problems, low self-esteem, hopelessness and poverty to “get through their daily lives,” he said.

“The problem we see in this generation is that they have normalized substance abuse,” whether it’s marijuana or even opiate abuse, he observed.

“They have normalized it to the point that it’s hard to get them to see that this is going to have a lasting impact on their lives,” not just physically in terms of their ability to be successful academically, but also vocationally and socially,” he added.

Because of this normalization, in many cases clients don’t see the substance abuse as problematic and don’t self-report it, so the issue isn’t discovered until further into treatment, “when they have established a relationship with their counselor and begin to be more forthright about how they are managing their lives,” he said.

Pictured: The addition of Head Start services prompted D&E Counseling’s name change to Alta Care  Group.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.