Burke Center Marks First Anniversary Providing Counseling Services

Burke Center staff members ready to meet your counseling needs include (front, from left) Ryleigh Fitch, Lisa Tinna, Sue Hunt, Erin Boyd, Casey Sickler, (back) Donald Miller, Jessica Burke, Steve Scharding, Dave Jones, and Brittany Kroptavich.

Photo and story by Rick Hiduk

(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)

The Burke Center at 1 Kim Ave., Tunkhannock, has been open for a little more than a year. In that time, the services available and the highly qualified staff that provides them have grown to fill the space available to business. Executive director Jessica Dunfee Burke, a former Wyalusing resident and graduate of the WVHS Class of 1994, opened the Center after nine years of serving as a counselor at other facilities.

I decided that I wanted to offer something else to the community,” she related. There were just five staff members upon opening in August of 2017, but client referrals allowed her to grown the business. “As we started receiving phone calls and referrals, I realized that we couldn’t have a backlog of people waiting to be seen.”

Burke, who has a Masters degree from Marywood University, runs the business, but she still enjoys serving as a therapist. Her helpers include Dr. Jane Jesse, her medical supervisor; physician’s assistants Dave Jones and Steve Scharding; full-time nurse Lisa Tinna, and nine additional employees rounding out the therapy and administrative staff.

What sets the Burke Center aside from other facilities in the area is its full-time medical staff for psychiatric needs and blended case management. “We can get someone in to be seen sooner,” Burke explains. “If not the same day, the next day.”

Blended case management, for which Burke counts on case management supervisor Casey Strickler and two other staff members to coordinate, includes arranging additional support for adults and children, including housing, transportation and IEP advocacy for school students. The combined services approach became especially valuable, Burke noted, after Community Counseling closed its Tunkhannock satellite office in 2017.

Children are often referred to the Burke Center by school counselors concerned about their lack of attentiveness, not following through with instructions, or acting out in class. Children are often tested for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) through a combination of NEBA – a new type of EEG – and old-school therapeutic evaluation.

The goal, Burke explains, is to determine if medication or additional support mechanisms are needed at the school, “or is this just a typical six- or seven-year-old who doesn’t like to sit still in the classroom?” There are very few “traditional” students any more, she added. “Every child is different and has different needs.”

The Burke Center’s adult patients are often referred to her clinic by a primary care physician or they make the call themselves if they are enduring depression, anxiety or mood swings. “Primary care physicians are very good at dealing with physical health,” Burke offers. “Our psychiatrists are here to deal with the mental health end of it. That’s why we work well together.”

Mental and physical health are equally important, Burke maintains, and they often progress simultaneously. If someone injures his or her back at work and is out of work for a year and no longer generating income, depression and anxiety can set in, which is as important to heal as the physical injury. The terms “counseling” and “therapy” are synonymous, Burke insists. Both boil down to determining a set of goals that the patient and the certified professional are trying to reach.

The stigma surrounding mental illness and depression is often the biggest obstacle for people who need treatment and those who embark on a road to recovery but do not get the support they need at home.

You shouldn’t have to hide behind a mask,” Burke proposes. “You should feel confident coming into the office to discuss what’s going on. It’s just like going to your primary care physician.”

For those borne of families or cultures that compare mental illness to weakness or failure, she continues, “It makes it very difficult. The denial is there. It is our hope that, at some point, the person is able to reach out and get the help that they need. If you learn to use the skills that you are taught during therapy, you can live that life you want to live.”

The Burke Center is a non-profit business that works with most insurance providers, so long as they are credentialed. By December, the Center will be credentialed with Medicare and state-insured Medicaid. New clients seeking medical appointments, which includes those needing adjustments of medications and those being discharged from other facilities, can generally be seen in one to three days. Individuals looking to schedule therapy sessions can usually be seen in five to seven days.

The Burke Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. Later appointments are available upon request. Additional information is available at www.burkecenter.org and at The Burke Center, Inc. on Facebook. To schedule an appointment, interested readers may call 570-240-4774.

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