Press Release

For immediate release

People's Community Clinic Integrating Behavioral and Developmental Health into Comprehensive Primary Care

Clinic awarded federal grant to help diagnose and treat kids in need.

AUSTIN — September 20, 2005 — People's Community Clinic is expanding its capacity to help serve low-income Central Texas youth and families with developmental, behavioral, and primary health care needs. A recently awarded Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children grant will support the Clinic's current efforts and additional referrals into its integrative mental and physical health program. The Clinic will receive $50,000 per year for five years under a collaborative effort between the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) that distributes grants to promote community planning and problem solving at the local level.

At present, about 19 percent of children in Travis County are uninsured, and an additional 19 percent are enrolled in a Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid. Many of these youth experience complex medical, learning, and behavioral problems and have limited access to interventional services. This not only impacts the lives of the youth, but also families, schools, and community agencies.

Integrating mental and psychosocial health into primary care, especially among at-risk populations is a growing focus of many health care professionals and industry associations. Several studies show that risk factors such as poverty and chronic illness increase the chances of a child developing psychosocial difficulties. Furthermore, children with developmental and behavioral difficulties, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, use the health care system more often than those without such disorders.

"A supportive primary care environment is a critical component of managing the overall well-being of children, especially among underserved populations," says Dr. Celia Neavel, project director, and director of People's Community Clinic's Center for Adolescent Health. "We are the medical home for these youth, and as such we can identify and monitor their mental and physical conditions."

Two objectives for this new program are: 1) to provide a permanent system of psychosocial and developmental screening, case coordination and preventive care for the Clinic's younger patients, and 2) to offer an improved resource for the low-income Central Texas community. In keeping with Clinic policy, patients must be uninsured or have Medicaid or CHIP and are assigned to the Clinic. The Clinic does not accept patients with private health insurance or MAP offered through the City.

Implementation requires that all patients over age four will receive a behavioral-developmental screening at each well-child visit or upon referral. Screenings consist of all parents and youth over age 11 completing the Pediatric Symptom Checklist and participating in structured interviews and developmental assessments. Youth and family members will receive counseling about the findings and proposed interventions.

Initial assessments and primary medical care will be provided by the Clinic's pediatric and adolescent medical teams. Further evaluation for patients and families will be provided as needed. Clinic social workers will assist in evaluations and coordination of services with other community agencies and health care specialists, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, as necessary. Assessment results of all identified patients will be included in the Clinic's Disease Registry database for continuous monitoring and follow up.

Maintaining strong relationships with local schools and agencies is critical to the success of the project. Community support ensures that at-risk youth will be referred in and that additional services for current Clinic patients will be delivered. An advisory council composed of area professionals and advocates has been created. "As practitioners, we see first hand the health care challenges and barriers to care for uninsured children and families. Our role is to advise the Clinic on how best to meet the program objectives for both patient referrals and care," said Becky Rivera, advisory board member and director of social services with Manor Independent School District.

The types of disorders the Clinic can expect to identify include behavioral and developmental problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, conduct disorders, learning disabilities, and language delays. Services are extended to families of children with these disorders since many parents have chronic physical and mental health needs that impact their ability to care for their children. Also, developmental disorders can have a genetic component affecting multiple members of one family. Conversely, a youth may be receiving appropriate sub-specialty or mental health care through another provider, but needs primary medical care or chronic disease management provided at the Clinic.

People's Community Clinic offers comprehensive, community-wide healthcare services that include family planning; prenatal care; pediatrics; adolescent medicine and adult medical care; as well as health education, prevention and social services. Founded in 1970, PCC is among the oldest and most successful independent clinics in the country providing high quality healthcare to approximately 11,000 uninsured and medically underserved children and adults. One in four Central Texans are uninsured and in need of access to primary care. People's Community Clinic's new model of patient care strives to help meet that demand.

 

For more information, contact

Margaret Henkels
2909 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78722

512-322-5135 Ext. 601

 

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