PCMH, a true pioneer in community-based mental health services, has a long and storied history that spans well over six decades. Founded in 1945 by Dr. Lewis R. Wolberg, M.D., the organization began as a small clinic in a townhouse on the Upper East Side, treating veterans returning from World War II.
Dr. Wolberg was trained in psychoanalysis but also developed a belief that there was more to mental health than just psychotherapy, for example the impact of community on an individual and his/her psychological state. In 1948, as the clinic grew, Dr. Wolberg realized that the organization’s major problem was a lack of a trained workforce. In response, he founded the PCMH psychoanalytic training program, one of the first in the country to train both social workers and psychologists in psychoanalysis. The psychoanalytic training program quickly developed an international reputation, with many of its graduates going on to become prominent therapists and analysts across the country.
In the 1960’s, the USA began to move away from keeping mentally ill patients in psychiatric hospitals with initiatives to integrate them back into the community. This important movement marked the beginning of PCMH’s venture into community treatment for people with chronic mental illness. PCMH opened its West Side rehabilitation center, on 36th Street, in 1977.
In the 80’s, PCMH continued to develop on three primary tracks: providing outpatient treatment, serving as a training center for psychoanalysis at the East Side Clinic, and focusing more on the chronically mentally ill population at the West Side program at 36th Street.
In 1985, PCMH opened its first residential program -- located on 50th Street. During the 1990s, it added three more residential programs for a total of 107 beds.
The Board and Executive staff began a strategic review of the Center in 1999. It was determined that the two areas of growth moving forward would be housing and case management, i.e., helping clients to coordinate the services they needed. Hence, PCMH embarked on an aggressive real estate and housing development strategy. There are now well over 1,000 operational housing units under PCMH’s umbrella, along with an additional 200-300 apartments in stages of design, development, and construction.
Besides its numerous buildings in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, PCMH has a very vibrant outpatient clinical services program (including a children’s clinic) and it has become one of the largest care management/health home providers in the New York City area. PCMH continues to see its role as helping society in the areas where it can have impact, which is primarily in housing for the mentally ill, and as a health/behavioral health provider for this population.
PCMH’s staff now numbers over 500. Its workforce and directors are extremely dedicated, and the agency has developed a culture of promoting from within whenever it can. PCMH maintains a unique business culture that helps it to be very lean and very flat in terms of hierarchy, with everyone involved in all aspects of operations. PCMH’s central administration is one of the keys to the organization’s overall efficiency with the core group functioning in multiple areas of responsibility.