Together they opened a clinic in Milwaukie offering physical and mental health services
August 19, 2010 -- It makes sense to combine physical and mental health services in the same clinic setting, particularly for people suffering from chronic medical conditions.
“But historically this hasn’t happened,” said Mark Levinsohn, PhD, vice president of clinical services at LifeWorks Northwest. “Physical and mental health have usually been separated both financially and structurally with providers not talking to each other.”
Rather than sit on the sidelines, LifeWorks joined hands with CareOregon to open a multi-disciplinary clinic in Milwaukie located at 17070 SE McLoughlin Blvd.
Once fully staffed, the mental health component will have the capacity to take care of 800-1,000 people, primarily Oregon Health Plan clients and other low-income adults. No one will be turned away because of inability to pay.
Here’s how this new model works. A physician treats a patient for high blood pressure or a migraine headache, yet recognizes they seem anxious and somewhat depressed. Rather then give them a referral to a nearby mental health clinic, that physician walks the patient down the hall and help arranges a consultation with very little effort.
“We call it a warm hands-off; it’s one-stop shopping for patients, and offers a more holistic approach to deal with their behavioral and emotional needs,” said Levinsohn, who has the highest regard for CareOregon’s willingness to participate in this partnership. “Adults with chronic mental health illnesses live 25 years less on average because they have higher risk profiles and are less likely to utilize physical health services.”
For its part, this new clinic arrangement represents a win-win because it meets peoples’ basic needs by improving their access to care, said James Schroeder, director of healthcare systems for CareOregon. “And it’s a great opportunity for physical health to partner with mental health.”
Its Community Health Clinic in Milwaukie has served approximately 450 patients during the first two months, and anticipates adding 100 patients a week, according to Jeanie Lunsford, spokeswoman. Over time the clinic will be able to accommodate 4,000 patients.
CareOregon, which has the largest number of Medicaid members in the Portland metropolitan area, is also opening a clinic in the Rockwood area, a highly impoverished area that lacks access to healthcare services, and has spent $2.1 million to purchase the building.
The health plan has also formed a partnership with Clackamas County to open a clinic in Gladstone in a building purchased by the school district, and will open another clinic in Washington County next month.
“We’re helping to meet needs by testing new models, trying to find ways to meet the needs of patients,” said Pam Mariea-Nason, who has since left CareOregon as director of health policy and community engagement. “This is a new way of partnering with our community. Each of our clinics is designed to deliver care in a team-based model, and we’re very excited about that.”
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