MENTAL HEALTHCARE IN PRIMARY CARE SETTINGS
ACORN Clinic Leads the Way in Integrated Trend in Medicine
May 31, 2015
Mental health conditions are extremely common. One in five Americans will be affected—causing a health care cost of $57 billion a year. Incorporating mental/behavioral health services in primary care settings is considered a “best practice” by SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions.
This “best practice” is already being implemented at ACORN Clinic in rural Alachua County, Florida.
Benefits of this trend, ACORN Clinic executive director Candice King notes, include closer connection and collaboration with primary caregivers and convenience for patients. King also sees that providing mental health services in a primary care clinic lessens the stigma associated with this care.
Recent studies show that primary care physicians are increasingly detecting mental health problems. Primary care physicians are concerned about the quality of treatment that is not in their control, as patients are unlikely to follow up with mental health care referrals and treatment adherence is generally low. Family physicians repeatedly cite a critical need for mental health professionals to improve the delivery of mental health services in primary care.
Licensed clinical worker and UF Health faculty member Christine Clark is the mental health professional in charge of treating patients at ACORN. Clark, who is trained in behavioral medicine, provides psychotherapy for patients with emotional pain. She employs the gold standard of treatment today: cognitive behavioral therapy, Rogerian supportive therapy, and hypnosis for smoking cessation, weight control, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. Clark also does her part to go above and beyond. She is a Senior Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) Partner meaning that she assists seniors with Medicaid and Medicare financial reimbursements, ensuring patients are entitled to the full amount possible that they can receive from governmental help agencies. Clark says, “I love what I do—working with patients and families. I assist people with entitlement agencies on the local, state, and federal level to ensure they get the services they need.”
Across the United States initiatives to combine the two fields are progressing. Models such as IMPACT, Improving Mood – Providing Access to Collaborative Treatment, integrate the treatment of depression into primary care and other medical settings. According to the University of Washington AIMS Center, using the IMPACT model of treatment doubles the effectiveness of depression management. Similar models show increased effectiveness in treatment of diabetes and cancer—proof that a patient’s quality of life can be improved while reducing healthcare costs.
Authored by Sunny Sharma
MELANOMA AWARENESS MONTH
It’s that time of year again — the sunny Florida weather is more enticing than ever! But before you head to the beach, Lynda McCarthy, ACORN Medical Clinic’s supervisor, has a few suggestions before your summertime fun starts:
“Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen,” McCarthy warns.
According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer, but it is much more serious. Medical News Today says melanoma is the process of pigment cells becoming cancerous.
In addition to sunscreen, McCarthy recommends covering up using hats, long sleeve shirts and pants to avoid the sun’s rays. McCarthy also has a secret — everyone forgets about his or her ears. When you are lathering on some SPF 50, don’t forget to include all of your skin, even your ears.
At the ACORN Clinic, a dermatology clinic takes place during three-month intervals or as needed by the community. According to Brian Sebasovich, an ACORN nurse, the dermatology clinic hopes to take place monthly.
Along with treatment for acne and rashes, the dermatology clinic provides biopsies for anything “suspicious-looking”, says Sebasovich, which could be a life-saving procedure for patients who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
McCarthy stresses self-examination of your skin.
“If anything (on your skin) is different or not symmetrical, always have it checked,” McCarthy says.
With this advice in mind, the ACORN Clinic hopes you have an enjoyable, melanoma-free summer!
Authored by Sarah Probst