The new center, 25955 W. 327th St., Paola, is among the first in Kansas to co-locate these two types of services under one roof. Success from similar ventures across the country suggests it might be the first of more to come. Leaders at the facility hope the clinic later can be expanded to include dental care, too.
The center, which is expected to serve about 2,000 patients annually, reduced expenses for the dual organizations by combining resources and also should reduce patients’ recovery time.
The concept is based on a similar organization, Cherokee Health Systems in Knoxville, Tenn., that focuses on treating body and mind, emphasizing “patient responsibility for healthful living.” This four-decade-old integrated, or blended, health care practice is producing results others, such as the Elizabeth Layton Center, want to emulate ... and for good reason.
Research shows that treatment of mental health concerns can result in a 20-percent reduction of overall health care services useage. That means mental health care can be an important contributor to reducing other health care costs — including those managed by the state. The Cherokee model shows that integrated care resulted in reduced emergency room visits, reduced in-patient admissions, reduced specialty referrals, increased patient satisfaction, increased primary care utilization and, most importantly, improved outcomes.
The leading barrier to obtaining unmet, but needed mental health services for adults was an inability to afford services, according to a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rural areas, such as those found in Franklin County, tend to be underserved for mental health services, so it is fortunate that Kansas’ first co-located medical and mental health services clinic is so close to this area.
Those patients without insurance are asked to pay a suggested $10 per visit, which is the estimated per-day cost for community-based mental health treatment under Medicaid. Those costs are modest compared to the cost for treatment at a state mental hospital or correctional mental health facility — a possible destination for those whose mental health challenges aren’t treated at their beginning stages.
This facility is a good idea for Kansas and the Franklin County area to provide a safety net to help serve the uninsured and underinsured. It should provide a good return on precious tax dollars, as well as provide an improved quality of life for the patients and their community.
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher