New Maryland Heights treatment center is like an ER for mental health

FOX Files

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – If you have a medical emergency you can go the emergency room; but what if you’re having a mental health emergency? In some cases, patients must wait weeks.

The new Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center in Maryland Heights aims to change that. It’s like an emergency room for mental health and substance use disorder. The people behind it know about recovery because they’re in it themselves

“We’ve been given this incredible gift of recovery and that’s what we want for all of our members,” said Paul Melnuk, co-founder and CEO of Sana Lake.

Melnuk said he’s tired of hearing as many as 90 percent of patients in recovery relapse.

“For me that’s just unacceptable,” he said. “Any business where you’re only getting a 10 percent success rate is not the right thing.”

Melnuk’s one of the people behind this new immediate access treatment center, which is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area. Their model means also surrounding patients with services—from housing to employment—and including their families.

“Because families are an integral part of successful outcomes,” Melnuk said. “And it all comes from the heart.”

Sana Lake spokesman Chad Sabora added, “A lot of our past treatment for substance abuse is rooted in, ‘Well, that’s just the way we do things,’ and unfortunately that’s not how we help people.”

Sabora is known for meeting people in crisis on the streets, because there wasn’t a place like this.

“That’s just how the system is set up,” he said. “It stigmatizes people with mental health they have to go through all these hoops and hurdles to get quality care.”

Sana Lake is licensed by the Missouri Department of Mental Health and nationally accredited. They’re working with licensed doctors and mental health professionals. They’ll bill your health insurance, while also working with those uninsured. Approximately 20 employees currently serve 250 patients but they think they can quadruple those numbers.

Scott McKinny is the man making it all happen as senior vice president of behavioral wellness services.

“I have not seen anything like it,” he said. “I think it’s something the group of us have always wanted to create and now that it’s coming together and coming to fruition it’s incredible.”

Why isn’t this model the standard? Melnuk thinks people are afraid they won’t make a profit.

“The philosophy I have, I call it doing well by doing good,” he said. “This is a business that you can do well financially, but you have to be able to deliver good outcomes and if you do that, I believe, if you take care of our members, everything else takes care of itself.”

Sana Lake is temporarily making telemedicine appointments because of the pandemic, but you can still arrive in person and make arrangements for urgent care.
If you need help now, call 877-780-5339

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.


Latest News

More News