Four safety net clinics in Kansas have been awarded federal funding to create or expand mental health services for low-income Kansans.
Bryan Thompson reports that funding is part of almost $55 million dollars in similar grants nationwide through the Affordable Care Act.
The four clinics will each receive $250,000. The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas saw 2,500 patients for mental health issues last year. CEO Krista Postai intends to use the new money to integrate medical and behavioral care.
“A psychologist will be co-located with our providers,” Postai says. "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.”
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 have some kind of behavioral issues, too.
“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,” he says.
Even that won’t be enough, says Wesco, but it’s a good start. The other clinics receiving mental health grants are the Flint Hills Community Health Center, in Emporia and Eureka, and Prairie Star Health Center, in Hutchinson.