In partnership with Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH), Catholic Charities in Wenatchee has opened an integrated healthcare clinic at the Worthen Street office. Hope Healthcare will provide primary medical care, mental health services, and substance use disorder services for adults. The clinic will include a primary care provider from CVCH. All Catholic Charities adult clients are eligible to use the clinic. CVCH offers services on a sliding fee scale, helping to ensure that anyone who needs services will be able to access them.
The integrated clinic helps clients:
• Develop an individualized health action plan
• Improve the self-management of chronic conditions
• Ensure care coordination and care transitions
As part of his effort to transform mental health and substance use treatment services in Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that overhauls the oversight of behavioral health programs in Washington and integrates those programs with other healthcare services. The law went into effect in January 2018, mandating that behavioral healthcare providers integrate medical services for physical health and substance use disorders. Hope Healthcare is the result of that new legislation.
“Historically, mental health, substance use disorders and physical health care services were delivered in different systems of care, making it difficult for patients to access all of the medical services and preventive care they needed,” Inslee said before signing the legislation, HB 1388. “Our state is moving quickly to integrate behavioral healthcare and physical healthcare across the state, and we’re ready to make these agency structural changes right away.”
Susan Marney, ARNP, Healthcare Services Supervisor at Catholic Charities agrees wholeheartedly, saying that this would have happened much earlier had support been available to move forward.
“We always knew it was a mistake to have mental and physical illnesses treated separately. Anyone who works in either area has known that such a division didn’t make sense. But, until recently there weren’t the supports,” she said. “People with serious, persistent mental illness have medical issues that didn’t get easily addressed within the healthcare system the way it was in the past. Our behavioral health clientele has great needs and sometimes cannot easily navigate the complex larger healthcare organizations. This smaller on-site clinic allows our clients to get the care they need in a way that is more doable for them.”
Integrated care is of great benefit for those who have chronic mental illness - it might even help them live a longer, more robust life.
“What has always driven us is the knowledge that people with chronic mental illness die 20-25 years before everyone else in our society, and they don’t die of mental illness,” Susan said. “They die of other physical health problems. That is astonishing. Their mental health challenges are so complex that it creates barriers, making everything more difficult. Having a primary care office here on site just simplifies everything.”