REFUGIO – Most life changing events come with visible, measurable physical and often financial losses.
But what cannot be measured is the emotional toll that one suffers as a result of such an event.
Depression, loneliness, stress, anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed are not always readily visible.
A smiling face is not a reliable indicator of one’s emotional state.
While physical and financial issues are being dealt with, many times the emotional issues are not identified or ignored for lack of knowledge as to where to seek the much needed help and support.
Residents of Refugio County and the surrounding area have somewhere to turn.
The road to recovering emotional health can begin with the Heritage Program which has been in operation at the Refugio County Memorial Hospital for approximately 23 years.
The Heritage Program, open Monday through Friday, is available to anyone who has traditional Medicare and has a need for emotional support.
Prior to becoming a part of the program, potential clients undergo an initial assessment to make sure that they will benefit from the program.
The program staff includes two licensed professional counselors, two mental health technicians, an intake coordinator and the program director Mark Fitzsimmons.
Clients attend the program several days a week for an unspecified amount of time.
The time frame is determined by the individual needs of each client.
The program, which includes lunch each day, provides supportive group therapy for those attending.
If needed, one-on-one counseling is available.
When possible, the staff can help with other client needs as well.
The emotional support provided by the Heritage Program helps clients improve their overall quality of life.
They gain a better understanding of themselves as they deal with the situations they are facing.
As they go through the program most clients begin to feel better about themselves and life in general.
Feeling better emotionally leads to improved health overall.
Fitzsimmons stated that seeing people begin to live more fulfilled and productive lives as being the most rewarding part of his job.
In addition to Refugio County, the Heritage Program serves Aransas, Goliad and Bee Counties.
The program has been extended with the recent addition of telehealth services.
Currently there are 14 clients in the program. Not all of them attend daily and there is room to accommodate more people.
“It is really a benefit to the community that our hospital has the ability to host a program such as this and it is great to be a part of the hospital in Refugio,” said Fitzsimmons.
Those interested in becoming a part of the Heritage Program can call 361-526-2321, ext.5.