Four safety net clinics in Kansas and three in Missouri have been awarded federal funding to create or expand mental health services for low-income individuals.
The funding is part of almost $55 million in similar grants nationwide through the Affordable Care Act. The clinics will each receive about $250,000.
The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas saw 2,500 patients for mental health issues last year. CEO Krista Postai says she intends to use the new money to integrate medical and behavioral care.
“A psychologist will be co-located with our providers, so as the physician encounters a challenge in the exam room, they can introduce the psychologist into the environment, and say, ‘I’d like you to visit with this person about why you can’t control your diabetes, or why you have anxiety or stress,’ which we believe will be far more effective than saying, “We need to make an appointment for two weeks from now,” Postai says.
They’re already doing that at the Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe. President and CEO Jason Wesco estimates that half the clinic’s medical patients also have behavioral issues.
“So we’ll hire two additional behavioral health consultants, both who will be psychologists, and we’ll also hire kind of a care coordinator for behavioral health services,” Wesco says.
Even that won’t be enough, he says, but it’s a start.
The four grants to Kansas, totaling $1 million, will establish or expand behavioral health services for 4,700 Kansans, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
The three grants to Missouri, totaling $749,999, will do the same for 2,635 Missourians.
“These awards will further reduce the barriers that too often prevent people from getting the help they need for mental health problems,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in the release.
“Health centers with these awards are on the front lines of better integrating mental health into primary care and improving access to care through the Affordable Care Act.”
Community health centers operate more than 52 service delivery sites that provide care to over 156,576 patients in Kansas, HHS says. In 2013, Kansas health centers saw over 5,045 behavioral health patients.
In Missouri, 220 service delivery sites provide care to 438,406 patients, according to HHS. In 2013, Missouri health centers saw nearly 30,000 behavioral health patients.
The other Kansas clinics receiving mental health grants are the Flint Hills Community Health Center in Emporia and Eureka, and Prairie Star Health Center in Hutchinson.
The three health centers in Missouri receiving grants are
The Betty Jean Kerr – People’s Health Centers and the Family Care Health Centers, both located in St. Louis, and Community Treatment Inc. in Festus.