When more and more people are struggling with mental health challenges an integrated care model is gaining popularity as a successful method of treating the health of the whole person in an effective and accessible approach.
Defining Integrated Care
Simply put, integrated care occurs when physical and behavioral healthcare professionals team up to provide complete medical services for patients. This model treats all aspects of a person’s health — physical, emotional, behavioral, mental, spiritual, and social.
“At Judson Center, we collaborate to provide coordination of care that includes our Behavioral Health Services and our Judson Family Health Clinic,” explains Jamila Stevens, the nonprofit agency’s Director of Integrated Care Services. “Our primary care nurse practitioner works in partnership with our psychiatrist who works in partnership with our therapist. They all work together to support our clients. The patients can get all their services at one time because we are housed in one place. Our staff meets constantly and has case consultations on a regular basis to make sure that coverage is appropriate and that we’re all in agreement on the patient’s needs and treatment.”
Breaking Down Stigma Around Mental Health Services
A person’s overall health outcomes are directly tied to their mental health. An integrated care setting enables people to check in on their mental and physical well-being in a one-stop location, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health services.
“Mental health services are accessible to all, and most people need some level of support as we saw throughout the pandemic,” says Stevens. “Being able to access that in an integrated care clinic like ours where there’s one lobby breaks down that stigma so that you can come here and get mental health services and no one is aware of why you’re here. In addition, when many people who struggle with mental and physical health issues put off getting regular care, they end up in the hospital, emergency room, and inpatient facilities. Having this model where you can come every month and see your psychiatrist and every other week see your therapist and every quarter or every year you can get your physical exam, you’re less likely to need to go to the ER because you have it all in one place.”
Prevention is Key to Overall Health
Not only does integrated care reduce the need for emergency visits, but it makes receiving routine care easier. “Prevention is the key to health,” said MedNetOne Associate Medical Director Elizabeth Haberkorn, a family nurse practitioner at Judson Family Health Clinic. “We like to emphasize those appointments for pre-employment physicals and well-woman visits. Really, any screenings, vaccinations, or other preventative medicine that will help patients see improvement. It’s that day-to-day healthcare that really gives someone help in the long run.”
“We offer all of the amenities that any primary healthcare clinic would provide,” adds Stevens. “For the younger generation that includes back-to-school physicals, physicals for sports, immunizations, anything that a family would need. Our lobby is a central location. We are a family-oriented practice and all are welcome.”
Integrated Care is the Future of Healthcare
The integrated care model is a worldwide trend in healthcare that benefits patients, caregivers, providers, and the larger health system. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), integrated care reduces depressive symptoms, enhances access to services, improves the quality of care, and lowers overall healthcare costs. “Integrated care is pretty wonderful,” Haberkorn says. “We have bi-weekly meetings with psychiatry and also with behavioral health for our shared patients. A lot of outpatient facilities don’t have that kind of care coordination. The fact that we can offer that kind of care for our patients is pretty cool.”
Why Should I Be Part of an Integrated Care Clinic?
Stevens concludes, “Integrated care is an emerging practice here in Michigan. I think it’s amazing that Judson Center is being innovative in its approach because I do think it’s the future. It fits well with your life when you are pulled in so many directions at once. With an integrated care clinic, you can know there are no gaps and your needs will be met. I think that’s the number one reason why people should pay attention. When you have all of your care providers in one place and they’re working together, you will get better healthcare.”
Judson Family Health Clinic is now accepting new patients and accepts most insurance. To schedule an appointment call (586) 573-1835.