News Local/State

Central Illinois Organizations Receive Federal Funding To Integrate Medical & Behavioral Health Services

Promise Healthcare

Courtesy of Promise Healthcare Facebook page

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded grants totalling $2.1 million to address the opioid crisis in central Illinois and improve the quality of behavioral health services.

One of those recipients if Promise Healthcare in Champaign, which received nearly $167,000.

The organization’s community clinic, Frances Nelson, caters to patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

Executive Director Nancy Greenwalt said the money will be used to hire new providers for their community health clinic, Frances Nelson Health Center, which serves patients regardless of ability to pay.

Greenwalt said she hopes to hire a manager of integration to start work in September. The manager would focus on coordinating care for patients who have both medical and mental health needs and providing referrals to outside treatment providers when needed.

The funding will also enable Frances Nelson to hire a clinician who will use evidence-based screening tools to identify people who may be in need of treatment for substance use disorders or other behavioral health conditions.

“We do want to, as a primary care provider, catch our patients earlier, so that we can provide education, maybe some counseling,” Greenwalt said, “and when necessary, a referral and recommendation to get care when the patient is ready and when it’s needed.”

Greenwalt said the funding will help Frances Nelson improve the primary care services they provide, by helping clinicians identify needs patients have that may extend beyond their medical condition.

For example, she said, some patients may lack of access to transportation, which can make it harder for them to get needed medications. Others may benefit from reminders to schedule appointments or renew prescriptions. Greenwalt said she’d like to explore the use of electronic health records to provide more seamless care to patients.

In a statement announcing the funding last week, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois says the grants are critical to help community health centers across the state provide much-needed services to stem the opioid crisis.

Other central Illinois providers who received funding through the Integrated Behavioral Health Services Program of HHS include Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, Heartland Community Health Clinic in Peoria, Community Health Improvement Center in Decatur, Cass County government (which operates health clinics in the towns of Virginia and Beardstown), and Central Counties Health Centers and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, both in Springfield.

Also, Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services in Gibson City will receive $1 million in funding from HHS' Rural Communities Opioid Response Program.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman