A mental health and drug abuse clinic that recently opened on Janesville’s south side could help fill gaps in the local social services network.

The Professional Services Group clinic provides medically assisted treatment, a key tool in the treatment of heroin/opioid addiction.

Local officials and others working on the problem have said repeatedly that the area does not have enough medical professionals qualified to prescribe the opioid-treatment drugs Vivitrol and Suboxone.

If drug treatment is not available at the moment the person is ready to give it a try, the result can be a return to illegal drug use, officials say.

PSG provides those prescriptions at the new clinic in a strip mall at 1905 Center Ave., across the street from the Rock County Job Center.

The outpatient clinic is the sixth such site for the company. The others are in Kenosha, Racine, West Bend, West Allis and Wausau, said Leah Featherstone, clinical administrator.

The company employs an advanced-practice nurse practitioner who prescribes medications for all its sites. A nurse takes the client’s vitals at the clinic, and then the nurse practitioner interviews the client via video chat, officials said Thursday during a grand opening.

Statewide, PSG employs 475 people, 60 of them therapists, in 16 counties. It also provides school-based mental health services at 65 schools around the state. It will add this service to Brookwood Elementary in Genoa City next year, Featherstone said.

The clinic serves mostly people who pay through Medicaid, Featherstone said.

Featherstone would not put a cap on the number of clients the clinic will handle. Officials said if the need grows, the clinic will expand, possibly next door to a vacant storefront in the shopping center.

Featherstone said the company also works with juvenile delinquency and foster care, “really just trying to strengthen communities and trying to keep families intact.”

PSG therapist Beth McErlean, said other providers, such as Crossroads and Compass, also provide mental-health and/or drug treatment here, but there are waiting lists.

McErlean, a Delavan native, worked for Rock County Human Services before joining PSG. She is one of three advanced-practice social workers who provide therapy at the clinic. The others are Janesville natives Heather Heritage and Carissa Johnson.

All three therapists provide mental-health services. Johnson is also is a substance-abuse therapist. They plan to add group-therapy sessions for mental-health, drug or alcohol needs soon.

PSG has worked with Rock County since January 2017, providing family-support services, so the company became aware of the need here and decided to open this clinic, Featherstone said.

Greg Winkler, behavioral health division manager for Rock County Human Services, attended the grand opening and said the county and PSG have a good relationship.

The county provides the same services as the clinic, but it’s often advantageous for the county to have outside agencies available, Winkler said.

Also in the office are three social workers who help clients develop life skills, officials said.

Featherstone said it was coincidence the clinic opened close to the old Pick ’N Save.

The clinic opened in March. Rock County announced last month that it would move human services offices to the closed grocery store in late 2020 or early 2021.

The clinic shares the shopping center with Asian Grocery, Baskin-Robbins ice cream and X-Treme Smoke, among other busineses.