Friday, July 31, 2015

Mental health center adds primary care to become health care home

Minnesota has 382 medical clinics that are certified as health care homes, but Zumbro Valley Health Center is the state’s first community mental health center to become a health care home.

MDH certified Zumbro Valley Health Center as a health care home in May, after it completed required certification steps such as adding primary care services. The organization is the first mental health center in Minnesota to achieve this designation.

“It’s exciting to see a mental health center deciding to become a health care home,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “A key opportunity for improving health care in Minnesota is to break down some of the divisions between physical and mental health so we can effectively coordinate care and treat the whole person.”

MDH and DHS are jointly responsible for the development and implementation of Minnesota’s Health Care Homes initiative.

Minnesota’s health care home model offers an innovative, team-based approach to primary care in which providers, families, patients, and other team members work in partnership to improve the health and quality of life for individuals, especially those with chronic and complex conditions. Health care homes put patients and families at the center of their care, develop proactive approaches through care plans and offer more continuity of care through increased care coordination between providers and community resources.

“This is a significant step forward in reducing health disparities for people with mental illness,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Care should be accessible and equitable for all Minnesotans and we congratulate Zumbro Valley Health Center for leading the way.”

Findings from a number of national studies indicate people with severe mental illness die as much as 25 years earlier than the public. The leading causes of these premature deaths are physical diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer. One contributing factor is that many with mental illness do not routinely see their primary care physicians for physical health screenings.

As a certified health care home, Zumbro Valley Health Center will provide integrated care services to individuals diagnosed with one or more major chronic conditions. This includes care coordination services to enhance each individual's well-being by organizing timely access to resources and necessary services to ensure continuity of care.

"Since launching our primary care clinic, we have worked with nearly 200 people with co-morbid conditions," said Zumbro Valley Health Center Chief Executive Officer Dave Cook. "A number of these individuals have significant medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity along with their mental illness or addiction diagnoses." Cook added there is no additional cost for this care and staff have begun speaking with clients who are eligible for health care home services.
Health Care Homes were developed as part of Minnesota's health reform legislation in May 2008. In 2014, the University of Minnesota released research that shows the clinics’ collaborative, patient-centered model of health care delivery reduced costs and outperformed other clinics on quality measures. 

Zumbro Valley Health Center delivers systematic coordination of health care to people with mental health, medical and addiction disorders. Zumbro Valley Health Center is a private, non-profit organization serving Southeast Minnesota.