By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — A holistic approach to mental and physical health has arrived in the community as Samaritan Behavioral Health, a mental health resource center and entity of Premier Health, opened offices at the Upper Valley Medical Center Outpatient Care Center North Building on North Looney Road in late March.
The mental health care clinic is a partnership between Samaritan Behavioral Health Inc. and Miami County Recovery Council as part of, “Our effort to integrate and bring together both substance abuse and mental health counseling,” explained Sue McGatha, president and CEO.
Therapists are on hand to aid both children, adolescents, and adults, offering mental health screenings and consultation, diagnostic assessments, as well as, individual and family therapy, and alcohol/drug and dual diagnosis services.
Miami County Recovery Council, offices located in Troy, has offered outpatient substance abuse and prevention for 36 years and is certified in mental health services. While Samaritan Behavioral Health, main location in Dayton, has provided services for over three decades, as well. The two came together — and with much credit given to — Tom Parker, former CEO of Upper Valley Medical Center, whose contribution was pivotal in developing the partnership so as to meet the demand for mental health services in the area, according to Thom Grim, executive director for Miami County Recovery Council.
“This has made it much more convenient for the Piqua residents,” continued Grim of the new offices located at the UVMC North Building with response positive as McGatha explained how long wait lists and extreme shortages of mental health services in Miami County was the reason behind the collaboration.
“Yet the need continues to grow,” continued McGatha with both agencies connected to community behavioral health services that are designed primarily for those low income. “The vast majority of our patients are on Medicaid and most of our services, 80 percent of our services are geared toward mental health and 20 percent substance abuse.”
Miami County Recovery Council sees ratios in the reverse.
After the two agencies came together, they began to implement a plan to deliver mental health, substance abuse and physical health services in one convenient location.
“So that we are treating the whole person and not separating them out as if only one problem exists and the other problem doesn’t exist,” said McGatha, with funding (in part) from an Upper Valley Medical Center Community Benefits grant an enormous aid in establishing the new service here in the Piqua community.
“They gave us first year funding and we are in the process of applying for second year funding so that we can continue to support our services here,” said McGatha.
Along with the Looney Road location services, McGatha and Grim shared the creation of a community care liaison position who works with the UVMC emergency room to stop what they call is often a revolving door. As, according to Grim, many low income individuals do not have a primary care physician and repeatedly cycle through the emergency room with inadequate follow-up care. For those with mental health and/or substance abuse issues the liaison can track, contact, and aid in linking them to a support service or agency.
“It’s been going well,” said Grim of the community liaison, with a long term, holistic goal to blend mental health care with primary health care in the medical office building or other area physicians. It is an effort to eliminate compartmentalization of services (physical here, mental there) so as not to miss other potential health issues.
“We really have to look beyond,” said McGatha as part of a community behavioral health system they must look at social determinants of health such as lack of work, poverty, or illiteracy. So they are asking more than is this a mental health issue, a substance abuse issue, perhaps a diabetes issue, for example. “We (also) have to look at, are there housing issues, do they have enough food to eat?”
An open house is scheduled from 4-6 p.m. for community providers Tuesday, May 27, at the UVMC Outpatient Care Center North Building, 280 Looney Road, Suite 204. For more information or additional needs or questions please call 440-7121.
To make a referral or for patients a centralized scheduler can be reached at 1-800-453-3386.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall