By Louise McCarthy, MPP, CCALAC President and CEO
Welcome! LA’s community clinics and health centers (clinics) are at the heart of the health care issues, trends and innovations taking place in Los Angeles County and beyond. LA’s clinics see more than 1.4 million patients annually—nearly 15 percent of the entire county population, and nearly half of the population living below the poverty level ($1,962 a month for a family of four). These clinics are working toward a coordinated and cohesive system of care which supports the health of all communities. This blog offers timely and valuable information to help you understand these issues and trends, and their impact on the communities served by LA’s clinics.
National Mental Health Month: Spotlight on Clinics as Care Integrator
Did you know that more than 50 percent of Americans will develop some sort of mental health condition during their lives? And one in four Americans will develop a behavioral health condition before the age of 14. Unfortunately, while the prevalence is high, the likelihood of seeking care is quite low.
While it’s easy to be disheartened by these shocking statistics, there is hope. As we celebrate National Mental Health Month, CCALAC is proud to celebrate the successes of LA’s community clinics and health centers in offering integrated behavioral and medical care that puts the client at the center.
In the San Fernando Valley, Valley Community Healthcare has demonstrated the power and promise of effective integrated services for all ages. Valley does this in a number of ways, partnering with outside agencies to provide collocated services to clients onsite and expert consultation for medical providers seeking decision support, as well as directly offering group sessions and training peer educators to help address behavioral health issues.
Through an onsite partnership with Behavioral Health Services (BHS), Valley is able to ensure their clients get care in a seamless manner. For example, just last week Valley’s Dr. Huang saw a client who reported experiencing “extreme anxiety.” Dr. Huang referred the client to BHS, and worked with BHS providers to rule out any other medical conditions that may have been causing the anxiety. The patient received brief treatment from BHS and a referral for ongoing support. In a stand-alone medical setting this case could have taken weeks to close, but Valley Community Healthcare was able to do in less than a week with an integrated approach.
External partnerships also improve care for Valley’s clients. Valley providers receive expert consultation and support from the Olive View Urgent Care program and the Beacon Health Strategies consultation team. With support from these partners, Valley’s providers are able to better serve their clients, and clients are less likely to be referred out for additional services.
Valley Community Healthcare is also using alternative models of care, with teen group sessions such as What’s in my Volcano? (where teens can explore feelings and anger management) and Turn down the Volume (where teens practice distress tolerance and emotional regulation). Soon Valley Community Healthcare will be launching Peer Educators to help teens develop leadership skills and community advocacy tools.
With its partnerships and programs, Valley Community Healthcare is an example of just some of the ways that clinics are integrating behavioral health care into their care models. Across LA County, you will find that clinics are working to develop and deploy programs that best serve their communities—increasing access to services, improving the quality of care, and reducing the stigma associated with behavioral health services. In the end, this type of care integration and coordination benefits the communities these clinics serve, and LA as a whole.