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Badlands Human Service Center gets new director, details plans for 2020 move

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Jessica Odermann began serving as Badlands Human Service Center regional director on Dec. 2. She brings to the position more than 10 years of public service experience in a variety of different roles, including behavioral health. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson's Badlands Human Service Center is starting the new year with a new director and new challenges that include expanding its programs and moving to a new location.

Jessica Odermann started as the new BHSC regional director on Dec. 2.

BHSC serves individuals experiencing serious mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder, and emotionally disturbed children and pregnant women.

"One of the biggest goals our center has is to provide crisis response," Odermann said. "We have an open access program similar to a walk-in clinic, where individuals can come any time of day and meet someone."

The need is great in the region for these services.

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"We are seeing an increase in suicide attempts and completions in the region," Odermann said. "We're seeing a lot of other behavioral health related issues. Substance abuse, mental illness. It's definitely growing in the area and the demand is high."

Odermann has a bachelor's degree in science and psychology and master's degree in public administration, both from the University of North Dakota.

She began her career working for Northeast Human Service Center in Grand Forks, then Ruth Meiers Adolescent Center for emotionally disturbed youth.

"While I was there, I realized that my interests were more in the macro-level systems and the way everything pieced together," she said.

Odermann next served at the Community Violence Intervention Center in Grand Forks, where she developed experience training law enforcement and social workers on domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violence-related areas.

Odermann then went to the North Dakota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division, doing policy work on behavioral health issues.

"My primary role was to be a community prevention specialist, addressing the prevention of substance abuse in communities across the state," she said.

Odermann is a Dickinson native who grew up in Bismarck.

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"My grandparents owned and operated an appliance store here in Dickinson for something like 75 years," she said.

At Badlands, Odermann's duties include overseeing center operations, addressing employee retention and recruitment, and developing and managing budget, all to see that the needs of client and staff and being met.

Odermann has enjoyed the experience so far, calling it a "learning process."

"It's a lot of learning of the different programs and getting to know the staff here and what they do on a day-to-day basis, so I can look at how things are functioning and see if anything needs to be changed," she said.

Badlands Human Service Center will be moving to a new location in 2020.

Currently located at Dickinson State University's Pulver Hall, DSU plans to renovate the space for its Theodore Roosevelt digital library.

A new location has been found, though details have not been released.

"We're close, but we just don't have all the information yet," Odermann said. "The community doesn't have a lot of places where there's an abundance of offices. We've got about 84 offices we need. We're hoping in the next few weeks or month we can start moving."

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Odermann is optimistic about her new position at Badlands.

"I'm very hopeful for those community relationships, and having the opportunity to be here on a day-to-day basis and getting to know people," she said. "I'm hopeful the times ahead are going to be good."

West Central Human Service Center Regional Director Brad Brown called Odermann an excellent choice to lead Dickinson's regional center.

"She's going to be a great addition," he said. "Being able to have a full-time regional director dedicated to Badlands Human Service Center is going to be very valuable. It's great for the center, the community and great for Jessica to be here and focus on moving behavior health and the programs and services we offer forward."

Related Topics: HEALTHCARE
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