History of St Mark's Institute for Health
"TO HELP COMPATRIOTS"
At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, I worked in the psychiatric ward of Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. A significant number of Russian emigrants settled in Coney Island and Brighton Beach areas; therefore, the Russian patients had good support. Then Polish patients began to appear, who encountered a considerable language barrier and frequently left the hospital against medical advice and found a place to prepare food, often collected from garbage and bed under the Cone Island boardwalk. Language is the basis of psychotherapy. The hospital focused mainly on severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar, or chronic depression. Poles were primarily diagnosed with depression, traumatic stress, alcohol, and drug issues. Then, the idea was born to set up a Polish psychiatric /medical facility focused on the problems faced by our compatriots living in New York...
I placed an ad in the Polish newspaper that I sought a building for a clinic in East Village, Manhattan. After this announcement, the pastor of the Polish National Catholic Church of New York, located at 57 Saint Marks Place, communicated that the parish wanted to rent its building. Unfortunately, in the future, the parish will be forced to sell the building because the parish was too small, with no income, to renovate this damaged building because of nearly no maintenance. Eventually, the building became the Clinic.
Many mentally ill people got a one-way ticket from Polish Jaruzelsk's government and were sent to the USA. These people were utterly lost – they became homeless and beggars in the streets of New York. But based on their chronic mental illness, UNITAS was able to place them in homeless shelters and, for some, eligible on SSI or SSD.
Unitas is the only Polish Clinic of this type in the United States with a mission for Polish patents. Which immediately began to run several specialized sections related to psychiatric and psychological problems and addictions. From the very beginning, our patients were able to benefit not only from psychotherapy and anti-alcohol counseling but also received appropriate medication. A few dozen Poles addicted to alcohol and various drugs lived in nearby Tompkins Square Park, then enjoying notorious fame. Frequently I, walked through the park, encouraging the Polish mentally ill to come to the Clinic for treatment. As a result, many writers, artists, and people capable of working eventually escaped addiction and became contributing members of society.
From the beginning, Unitas' services are also used by other NewYorkees Unitas is constantly implementing and expanding the scope of treatment. Ten years ago, NYS OMH approved an integrated license, thanks to which primary care and family medicine are included in addition to psychiatry and substance use disorder treatment. As part of this primary care, the Clinic treats many =common conditions, e.g., diabetes, hypertension, HIV before and after exposure, Hepatitis C, etc.
Unitas has been rewarded with federal contracts for many years, in a three-yearly auction. NYS and NYC also often refer clients who speak Slavic languages.
The NYS Department of Motor Vehicle approved the Unitas program for drivers stopped while driving after consuming alcohol or other intoxicants.
The employees - doctors, psychologists, and therapists - employed at the Unitas clinic speak many languages, m.in English, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Georgian, Slovak, and Polish. This lets patients from different countries talk in their native language. In the recent two years, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the number of patients with paranoia and depression disorders has increased, reflecting fears related to stress, an uncertain future, and a lack of work and prospects.
Unitas is located -at 57 Saint Marks Place in Manhattan - It was there that the legendary Club 57 once operated, where many famous artists began their careers. Still, it was also a place where alcohol and drugs ruined many people's lives.
Unitas' doctors and psychotherapists believe that the mind and body should be treated as one; hence this holistic approach is encoded in the name Unita's comes from Latin meaning One or Oness,
Unitas operates as a private non-profit organization. The Board of Directors is the government of the Clinic. The Board elects the Chief Executive Officer, who runs the Clinic on a daily bases and is also responsible to the New York State rules., regulations and laws. Unitas is not funded by government money. Instead, it earns its living from the work it performs.