Tallahassee, FL - Apalachee Center, Inc., the largest community mental health center in the Big Bend region, and Bond Community Health Center, Inc. (BCHC), the federally qualified health center for Leon County, announced on Friday, 9/24/10, that they have been awarded a 4-year, 2 million dollar grant by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).
This grant will fund an expansion of the Bond-Apalachee Wellness Integration Center (BAWIC) at Apalachee’s Leon County outpatient service, to provide longer service hours, more treatment staff, and more availability of integrated physical, mental and substance abuse healthcare services.
The grant was part of a series of grants awarded by SAMHSA to 43 community mental health agencies nationwide. In a press release issued on Friday, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated “These awards represent a long overdue investment in the health of some of our most vulnerable populations. The long-established split between “mental” and “physical” health is not justified in research and should not be perpetuated in health care. These grants are part of an unprecedented push by the Affordable Care Act to help prevent and reduce chronic disease and promote wellness by treating behavioral health needs with equality to other health conditions.”
In 2009, Apalachee Center and Bond Community Health Center received national attention for the opening of the Bond-Apalachee Wellness Integration Center to provide physical health services to people receiving mental healthcare. The Wellness Integration Center, the first cross-care facility of its kind in the region, brought together medical staff and mental health providers at a single site to improve the health outcomes for people with mental illness. Apalachee Center CEO Dr. Jay Reeve and Bond Center CEO J.R. Richards have presented across the state and nationally on the integration of mental health and primary care services.
“Apalachee Center is very pleased about the possibilities for greater community service, improved treatment outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens, and continued growth and expansion of our strong partnership with Bond CHC,” said Dr. Reeve. “The award of this highly competitive grant demonstrates that Leon County has been nationally recognized as a community that is serious about innovative healthcare solutions, and is serious about ensuring a strong safety net for our family and neighbors who need help”.
“These are exciting times for the BCHC. This partnership and grant award is evidence of our continued efforts and commitment to improving the lives of the Leon County residents. By collocating behavioral and medical providers and furthering the scope of medical interventions, our goal is to provide needed health care services to more patients and reduce costs,” said J.R. Richards, CEO of Bond Community Health Center, Inc. “Physical health conditions among people with serious mental illnesses have negative impacts on their quality of life and contribute to premature death. Health conditions associated with this population are preventable through routine health promotion activities, primary care screenings, monitoring, treatment and case management.”
Bond Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, provides quality comprehensive family health services to more than 2,000 patients each month, with particular concern for lower
socioeconomic groups. Apalachee Center is the largest community behavioral health center in the Big Bend region, treating individuals with a wide range of behavioral health needs, including those who are homeless, involved in the criminal justice system, suffer from severe mental illness or have a co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse problem.
With community health, mental health and substance abuse services in heavy competition for the same scarce resources, Bond and Apalachee have taken great strides to work collaboratively, rather than as competitors. Their model for integrated care is nationally recognized as a best practice. With the award of this grant, The Bond-Apalachee Wellness Integration Center is proven to serve as a model for similar programs in the region, state and nation. The “no wrong door” approach to this program makes health care more friendly, less stigmatizing and easier to access at a single location.
The center is an example of two healthcare organizations expanding to meet the changing needs of the community in which they serve.
For more information about the Bond-Apalachee Wellness Integration Center, visit www.apalacheecenter.org or www.bondchc.com.