Farewell Building 50...The Name That Is

Monday, July 23, 2018

"Building 50" was the numerical designation of our main building when it was a Norristown State Hospital facility.

When we moved here in 1988, the Building 50 sign was out front (it is still there behind some bushes) and it was cast in concrete over our front door, which is now now covered by an MCES banner.

Many of the NSH sites had formal names. Yet most became known by their numbers. For example, the Regional Forensic Center is referred to as Building 51. That convention came to affect us at Building 16, our former, home, and followed us here.

Perhaps our original corporate name, Montgomery County MH/MR Emergency Services was too much of a mouthful. In any case, even when we adopted our present name, which readily lent itself to the less cumbersome MCES, Building 50 stuck.

Our staff and just about everyone else who has any dealings with us continue to use it daily. Curiously, Circle Lodge has never be known as "Building 15" despite always operating in a former NSH facility. Perhaps the fact that their initial residents were recent NSH patients compelled them to separate their identity from the state hospital as much as possible. Whatever the reason, we should have stemmed this usage long ago.

Building 50's historical institutional utilization, as part of NSH and later the county prison for women, coupled with our location, which leads some to think that we're part of the state hospital, does not support or relate our crisis intervention and emergency mental health mission to the communities we serve. Actually it stigmatizes us because nothing about us is institutional, except the architecture and we do all we can to minimize that.

So when we answer the phone saying "MCES" or "emergency services" we will gently clarify who we are to callers asking for "Building 50." We will similarly respond to visitors who come into our foyer and ask our crisis staff "Is this Building 50?"

We know that it will take some work to undo 30 years of misidentification but we are up to it.