Thursday, April 24, 2014

New low-income clinic targets physical, mental health

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 12/24/2012

PAOLA — Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance and Health Partnership Clinic have joined forces to start the first clinic in Kansas that offers both mental and physical health care.  

The Ottawa-based Layton center, a provider of mental health services, and Health Partnership, an Overland Park-based health care provider for low income and uninsured patients, established the clinic Dec. 10 in the Layton center’s new building at 25955 W. 327th St., Paola. The clinic is available to the Layton center’s clients in Franklin and Miami counties and other areas.

PAOLA — Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance and Health Partnership Clinic have joined forces to start the first clinic in Kansas that offers both mental and physical health care.  

The Ottawa-based Layton center, a provider of mental health services, and Health Partnership, an Overland Park-based health care provider for low income and uninsured patients, established the clinic Dec. 10 in the Layton center’s new building at 25955 W. 327th St., Paola. The clinic is available to the Layton center’s clients in Franklin and Miami counties and other areas.

“People who suffer from persistent mental health issues such as depression often develop chronic health problems as well,” Diane Drake, executive director of the Layton center, 2537 Eisenhower Road, Ottawa, said. “Often it’s not the depression that kills them, it’s the health problems that accompany it.” 

Likewise, many physical health care patients can benefit from seeing a behavioral health specialist, who can help them make lifestyle changes that can improve their physical health, Leslie Bjork, the Layton center’s clinical director, said. 

“Being able to treat patients for their mental and physical health care needs in the same facility just makes good sense,” Bjork said.

Bjork, who splits her time between the Layton center’s facilities in Franklin and Miami counties, said the concept of a combined clinic to serve patients with mental and physical health needs is not a new one. She said she recently returned from training sessions at one such nationally recognized program in Knoxville, Tenn., which has been providing this form of integrated care since the 1970s.

But this clinic is a first of its kind for Kansas, Bjork and Drake said.

“With health care costs continuing to increase [in the U.S.], I think you will see more of these clinics established across the country,” Bjork said. “It’s more efficient and more cost effective to be able to serve patients’ mental and physical health care needs in the same facility.”  

Drake said a person does not have to be a patient of the Layton center to received medical care from Health Partnership and vice versa at the new walk-in clinic in Paola.

“Our services, and Health Partnership Clinic’s services, are open to anyone who walks through the door,” Drake said. “We don’t turn people away.”

Federal funds awarded through the Affordable Care Act made Health Partnership’s expansion to Miami County possible.   

Health Partnership received a $650,000 federal grant in June to expand its clinics in Overland Park and Olathe, as well as establish its new clinic in Miami County. A nurse practitioner, who can prescribe medications, as well as a registered nurse are staffing the health care portion of the Paola clinic, and Bjork said the health care provider plans to expand its staff in the future.

To become a federal qualified health center to qualify for the grant, Health Partnerships had to find a rural partner to serve the low income and uninsured in underserved rural areas. Drake said the Layton center, with its roots firmly established in Franklin and Miami counties, was the perfect partner to help Health Partnership meet this requirement.

The clinic anticipates serving 6,000 patients by the end of 2013, Drake said.

Health Partnership officials said they expect the clinic to draw patients from Franklin, Miami and Linn counties in Kansas and possibly Cass County in Missouri.

“If they get here, we will serve them,” Jason Wesco, Health Partnership’s chief executive officer, said in a Kansas Health Institute News Service report.

Health Partnership was one of three safety-net health care clinics in Kansas — along with Heartland Medical Clinic in Lawrence and Health Ministries Clinic in Newton — that received a total of $1.8 million in new grant funding, Jay Angoff, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news release.

But the other two clinics are not offering integrated mental and physical health services.

Mental health services the Layton center provides at the Paola facility often can benefit medical patients who visit the new Health Partnership clinic, Bjork said. 

“A behavioral health specialist could help a diabetes patient, who isn’t taking their insulin, through behavioral modifications,” Bjork said as one example.

Bjork said she could cite many other instances when a medical patient also could benefit from the Layton center’s services — from improving sleep patterns to dietary habits.

Health Partnership patients have been willing to share their confidential health information with the Layton center, and vice versa, once the benefits of being served by both services are explained, Bjork said.

“That really hasn’t been an issue,” she said.

Low income and uninsured patients pay a small fee or no fee for the services, based on a sliding-fee scale, Drake said.

“One of the other benefits of receiving primary care through Health Partnership Clinic is from discounted rates on prescribed medications, due to the federal qualified health center status,” Drake said. “Locally, the contracting pharmacy with Health Partnership is Walgreens.”

Health Partnership also offers dental care services through its Olathe clinic, Drake said.

While the combined clinic has required coordination and some specialized training between the services, Bjork and Drake said the Layton center has eagerly embraced the new concept.

“I’m excited about the new clinic,” Drake said. “This is something that’s outside the box that is providing a valuable service.”

Bjork agreed with Drake that this integrated concept will prove to be the wave of the future in health care. 

“This type of integrated care is cheaper and more effective than other types of care out there,” she said.

Doug Carder is senior writer at The Herald. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald.com

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