The Providence Center: Healthy minds ages 1-89

Established in 1969, The Providence Center is a community resource that provides mental health and substance use services to Rhode Island.

Dr. Dale Klatzker is President and CEO of The Providence Center, a community resource that provides mental health and substance use services to Rhode Island. Established in 1969, The Providence Center offers over 40 programs and serves more than 13,000 individuals each year. The Providence Center focuses on the integration of primary and behavioral healthcare through consumer driven philosophies and community outreach. Dr. Klatzker’s interest in behavioral health began at Brandeis where he received a BA in American Studies and got a job in behavioral health services. This interest continued as he moved on to receive an MA in social work from Boston University, and a doctorate in social policy and management from the Heller School at Brandeis University. Before becoming president of The Providence Center in 2004, Dr. Klatzker served as CEO for community behavioral health centers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Providence Center works with low-income populations who have mental illnesses and/or substance abuse issues, some of our most vulnerable individuals. Dr. Klatzker says that The Providence Center works to provide this community with high quality healthcare and to foster an environment where patients and consumers are treated with dignity and respect. Today, The Providence Center offers a broad spectrum of programs to their clients including employment assessment and job placement assistance, crisis intervention, and primary health care services.

If all you do is address the mental health issue or their addiction, they may or may not get better. What we really need to do is address the social determinants

Dr. Dale Klatzker President and CEO of The Providence Center
Dr. Dale Klatzker

The Providence Center takes an individualized approach  to care. “The services you need may not be the same as what your neighbor needs,” says Klatzker “and what you need today may not be what you need 6 months from now.” This individualized strategy is essential at The Providence Center, where a diverse group of patients from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and age groups receive services. According to Dr. Klatzker the oldest client that they serve is 89 and the youngest is 1.

The Providence Center is committed to bringing health and safety to the community. Recently, The Providence Center teamed up with the Warwick and Providence police departments to develop a new program aimed at improving public safety and healthcare in Rhode Island. Through this partnership The Providence Center assigns a community diversion clinician to assist the police department in responding to incidents where mental health plays a role. The Providence Center’s clinicians work with the police to assist people struggling with psychiatric or substance abuse problems. The clinician is there to de-escalate the situation and conduct a clinical assessment at the scene to provide the individuals with effective and appropriate care. The clinicians work with police officers to connect at risk individuals with the resources they need to seek treatment and avoid being placed in the criminal justice system. This partnership provides law enforcement with an important assessment tool to avoid crisis situations. The program also provides individuals with the opportunity for improved health in a safe environment.

Another program that The Providence Center offers is a school that works with children grades pre-K through 12 who are struggling with behavioral and emotional symptoms. This school is fully licensed by the Department of Education and caters to both children and adolescents who have been referred for special needs education by school districts across the state. They have a team of special education teachers, teaching assistants, master-and doctoral level clinical therapists and psychologists who work to personalize a teaching approach that will address the academic, social and mental health needs of each student. The Providence Center School makes it their mission to prepare each student to return successfully to their community school, enroll in a private program, pursue higher education or join the workforce.

Dr. Klatzker is a member of the School of Public Health Community Advisory Board, a partnership that keeps Brown connected to the Providence community and shines a focus on population health issues. The SPH Community Advisory board also helps provide feedback on education opportunities for students at the School of Public Health.