Waimea Community Counseling Clinic finds a new home

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<p>Dr. Peter In and his associates welcome the community to Waimea Community Counseling Clinic during their grand opening event, on Sept. 27. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>The Waimea Community Counseling Clinic staff gathers during their grand opening event on Sept. 27. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Psychologist Victoria Korge gives a tour of the Waimea Community Counseling Clinic during the clinic’s grand opening on Sept. 27. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

When Dr. Peter In first came to Waimea in the 1970s, a realtor friend told him, “We don’t need a psychiatrist here.” Not true, apparently. Over the last 35 years, as the only child psychiatrist, and one of only two adult psychiatrists in Waimea, the doctor has certainly been “In” as far the community’s mental health needs are concerned.

Today, as director of the Waimea Community Counseling Clinic, In and his colleagues take more of a team approach to mental health treatment.

“I was looking at retirement and realized it’s not practical to expect somebody to come in and do it all,” said In, whose private practice served more than 600 active patients. “The team approach is a much more sensible approach … We are providing more service to the community.”

With a group of practitioners, the clinic can assist with medication management, counseling, testing, evaluations and much more, including the volumes of paperwork and follow-up that even an e-filing system demands.

WCCC staff includes Robb Imonen, D.O., adult psychiatrist, Elodie Imonen, D.O., child psychiatrist, Victoria Korge, Psy.D., psychologist, Teresa Wagner, M.A., mental health counselor, Mary Kruse, office manager, and Rebecca Ray, administrative assistant. They are also recruiting a full-time child psychiatrist and an adult psychiatrist to round out the team.

“There is a huge need for psychiatric service—to help people with the trials and tribulations of life,” said In. “Twenty-five per cent of people deal with depression during their lives,” said In. “Anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders such as a death in the family, divorce, loss of a job … It has certainly kept me busy over the years.”

In his off-time, In enjoys serving as the president of the Waimea Ballroom Dance Club, which meets at Waimea Elementary School on Mondays at 7 p.m. He said the group is open to men and women of all ages at a cost of only $10 for a six-week session taught by a former Arthur Murray dance instructor.

“Dancing is great for your mental health,” said In. “It’s great exercise, and the social aspect is wonderful, too.”

Dancer, doctor, avid Scrabble player, In also enjoys working with horses on his three-acre farm, originally built as an equestrian center. “I look forward to working with other therapeutic riding programs when time permits,” he said.

Through all of Waimea’s ups and downs in the last 35 years, In said the community’s mental health needs have really not changed all that much. “The basic needs are the same—strong family, a way to earn a living, a way for the person to be a useful member of society,” said In, an advocate for creative solutions to help people earn a living, as well as parenting classes, including those for young people.

“It’s the same old problem as far as scarcity of resources,” said In. “The clinic is one way to meet those needs.” Even if the days of the “solo practitioner” are over, In said he is enjoying the new approach to serving the community’s mental health needs.

“It’s been real pleasure this year. It’s given me a whole new lease on energy,” said In. “It’s been fun and we’re very happy, enjoying our new home.”

WCCC is located in the office plaza near Waimea Instant Printing, in the former location of the Traditional School of Chinese Medicine. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 885-7444.