News Article Details

Former Centers director opens nonprofit clinic to help those with mental health, substance abuse issues

Citrus County Chronicle - 3/15/2017

If you ask Yvonne Hess, sometimes what looks like calamity is really a gift in disguise.

When the former clinical director at The Centers lost her job due to budget cuts this past December, she said her first thought was to be angry and then wallow. But she quickly saw it as just the catalyst she needed to get back to doing what she loves most: treating clients who desperately want help getting and staying clean from their addictions.

"That's my passion - to do the work and not just organize it," Hess said.

On April 1, she will begin seeing clients who are seeking recovery from substance abuse and those living with mental health disorders at her new nonprofit, Affinity Counseling, located at 107 MLK Jr. Ave., Suite 7, Inverness, directly behind the courthouse.

"I called it 'Affinity' because the word means to come along beside, or partner with, to have empathy for, and that's what I think recovery needs to be," she said. "Everybody joins forces in a circle with a person as he or she begins recovery and not to merely teach them recovery. We work with a client not at or to a client."

She added that Affinity is a nonprofit because she wanted to be able to offer services at a low-cost, sliding-fee scale for those who need it most.

"In our county, those are the working poor, the young who don't have effective insurance, and I wanted to be able to do it in a way that they get the treatment they need," she said. "If you're insurance-driven, you're not going to be able to provide the length of care that's adequate to develop successful recovery."

As a recovering addict and alcoholic, Hess understands that recovery takes time, that an addict's brain and thought process is backward and upside down and it takes time to relearn healthy, sober thought processes.

"There's this little 'relapse monster' that wants to control things, and in recovery I've learned that my first thought (in a stressful situation) is always wrong, that it will lead me to reach for the drugs or the alcohol," she said.

In 2009, Hess, together with Bruce Deyarmond, started the Phoenix substance abuse recovery program at The Centers as part of the county health department federally qualified health center services, primarily for court-mandated clients.

She said the need for mental health and substance abuse treatment is great in Citrus County.

"I'll be doing a full round of outpatient services, including trauma issues, bipolar disorders, depression and anxiety problems, in groups and individual counseling," she said.

Also, her husband, John Hess, a nurse practitioner who runs the Grace Clinic primary care practice in Homosassa, will be providing health screenings and writing prescriptions for low-cost meds.

"Right now I'm working on getting some chairs for people to sit on," Hess said, "but we've got an office and air conditioning and the lights are on, and I'm excited to get back to what I love doing, and that's treating people."

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or

* WHAT: Affinity Counseling Inc. for substance abuse and mental health disorders.

* WHO: Yvonne Hess, formerly with The Centers.

* WHERE: 107 MLK Jr. Ave., Inverness (Park Place, located behind the courthouse).

* OPENING: April 1.

* INFO: Call 352-364-6037 or email:


Driving   Walking/Biking    Get Directions