Medford, Ore. — Now, more than ever, medical providers are seeking to treat the whole patient – supporting their mental, as well as physical and dental needs. This effort to coordinate all care is an integral part of the relatively new Coordinated Care Organization model formed in 2012, in Jackson County and elsewhere.
Jackson Care Connect, one of three Coordinated Care Organizations serving Jackson County Oregon Health Plan members, is supporting local providers in making this change or strengthening their existing efforts with an investment in behavioral health of $487,500 over the next year.
“We are investing with local clinics and doctors’ offices to add or increase behavioral health services for patients when they visit their primary care provider,” said Jennifer Lind, CEO of Jackson Care Connect.
Behavioral health services include guidance and treatment plans that help patients manage life challenges, learn coping skills, conquer substance use or addictions and increase a sense of wellness.
“This investment benefits the entire community, not just members of Jackson Care Connect, since our providers will be able to help others with this model,” Lind said. “Moving toward whole-person care in primary care settings is a top priority for investment, and that will support and improve health for everyone in Jackson County.”
“We know that many normal life stressors can affect physical health,” said Laura Heesacker, a social worker and behavioral health specialist with Jackson Care Connect. “We also know, through a series of meetings with providers and community members, that behavioral health services are really needed in primary care settings.”
“The idea is to treat behavioral issues just like any other health problem a patient might bring to the doctor’s office,” Heesacker said. “We hope to take away the stigma associated with seeking this care and help patients get the help they need immediately, instead of waiting or having needs go untreated.”
“The funding from Jackson Care Connect meets two local needs,” said Lind. “For providers who currently have no behavioral health staff in their offices, the funding will help bring that resource. In practices that already have behavioral health staff, funding will help maintain and grow those services.”
To start the integration of behavioral health services, five local clinics have been selected to receive funding: La Clinica Wellness Center; Southern Oregon Internal Medicine; Valley Family Practice; Providence Medical Group Medford Pediatrics; and the Asante Physicians Partners system of clinics.
Expansion funds have been awarded to existing behavioral health services at three La Clinica sites (Phoenix, West Medford, and Central Point), three Rogue Community Health clinics (Ashland, Medford, White City), three Providence Medical Group clinics (Central Point, Medford, and Phoenix Family Practices), two Asante Physician Partners clinics (Ashland Internal Medicine, Medford Family Medicine), and Southern Oregon Pediatrics.
“We believe strongly that patients having access to these services will help them manage life stressors, addictions and other behavior issues, improving overall health,” Lind said. “Once we help integrate behavioral health into a practice, it’s not a one-time thing. We plan to continue that funding over time.”
For information about Jackson Care Connect, contact Jeanie Lunsford, Care Oregon Communications Senior Manager, 503-416-3626, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about this story, contact Julie Raefield, JCC Communications Consultant, 541-380-1154, email@example.com.