OnPoint’s new community mental health facility increases access to care

OnPoint staff and community leaders cut the ribbon to the organization's new facility.
During OnPoint’s open house, it was difficult for executive director Mark Witte to walk through the building. Every few steps, someone came up to share their excitement, telling him that the mental health organization’s new facility is “just fantastic.”

Officially opened to the public on May 8, the facility, a former grocery store at 540 Jenner Dr. in Allegan, will bring all of OnPoint’s services into one building while increasing its outreach. Witte estimates that the new facility will allow OnPoint to add about 500 more clients. OnPoint currently serves about 1,300 people a year.

“The attraction of the building was that it was (on a main street) and across from the hospital, Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital,” Witte says. “The fact that it was across the street meant there were opportunities for synergy between us.”

Along with the new space, OnPoint is now a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) grant recipient, which allows the facility to serve anyone in the community with few restrictions. This program was a national initiative led by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) who noted through a video recording that by having OnPoint’s facility on a main road, “You are decreasing the stigma and reminding people that they can get help right here at home.” 

Having the facility in downtown Allegan provides more accessibility to area residents who, in the past, had to travel five miles out of town to the Allegan County Health Department to seek mental health services. 

“So, this will be much, much more accessible,” Witte says. “And I hope our sign leads people to think that you're ‘on point’ isn’t saying ‘mental illness,’ but ‘on point’ says we offer good care, which is what is on the sign outfront.”

OnPoint executive director Mark Witte in one of the larger integrated consultation rooms

Building a place to meet client needs

The dream for the new OnPoint facility started about eight years ago, when designs for a proposed building were put together. In 2019, the former grocery store became available. Witte and his team began to take a look at the Jenner Drive site and determined the 36,000-square-foot facility would be the perfect location. 

A lot of attention to detail was given to the overall design. The addition of 230 windows on the exterior of the building — and interior spaces with higher glass walls and more windows — allow for as much natural light as possible.Other design aspects included octagonal areas at hallway intersections for more comfort as people move through the building and the use of neutral colors. Witte’s office is next to the public areas, board rooms, and meeting spaces. 

“I wanted to be close to where the community is and where our meetings are,” he says.

Perhaps the most innovative space is the integrated care area at the center of the facility.

“This is everything that clients would ordinarily get in primary care and psychiatric care as well as counseling services all in one location,” Witte says. “It's a little bit of a work in progress. I wouldn't say tomorrow we're doing it that way, but that's the direction we're moving in, and we now have a facility that will support it.”

OnPoint executive director Mark Witte in one of the larger integrated consultation rooms

A one-stop shop for health care

The integrated consultation rooms are various sizes. A large room can accommodate a group meeting. A smaller room a few doors down contains medical cabinetry and furniture that is designed to be used for meetings or medical exams. 

“This room could be used for outpatient counseling appointments, but it's not so medical to make it so that you feel uncomfortable here,” Witte says. “But it gives us the opportunity to have different people come in who have pieces of work to do with the patient or the client and doesn't require the client to come back multiple times. That's what we're trying to do, to ease the access.” 

The new OnPoint facility includes a lab.The building also includes a pharmacy, a lab with a connecting bathroom, and two stations for blood draws. Witte notes that  a lot of times blood levels are important for monitoring people's medications.

“That kind of thoughtfulness about integrating care was put into the facility by dedicating space for it,” Witte says.

Funding for the project ame through a $5.635 million loan from the rural development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Legislature through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma has 30-plus years of writing experience having served as a reporter and editor for several West Michigan publications, covering a variety of topics from local news to arts and entertainment. 

Photos by Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

The MI Mental Health series highlights the opportunities that Michigan's children, teens, and adults of all ages have to find the mental health help they need, when and where they need it. It is made possible with funding from the Community Mental Health Association of MichiganCenter for Health and Research TransformationGenesee Health SystemMental Health Foundation of West MichiganNorth Country CMHNorthern Lakes CMH AuthorityOnPointSanilac County CMHSt. Clair County CMHSummit Pointe, and Washtenaw County CMH.

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