Hogg Foundation helps implement coordinated health care programs

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Patients seeking both mental and physical health services may soon have a place to go for all-in-one care, a move proponents say could possibly prevent further health problems for patients.

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, an organization seeking advance treatment of mental health patients, is granting $720,950 to various Texas health care organizations to plan and implement coordinated mental and physical health care programs. The grant will help the organizations provide mental and physical health services in the same locations. Five health care organizations, including Harris County Protective Services in Houston and Austin’s Seton Fund, are receiving grants for planning.

Six organizations, including Georgetown home health care provider Lone Star Circle of Care, are receiving grant money to implement integrated care.

Rick Ybarra, program officer for the grant initiative at the Hogg Foundation, said any pairing of mental and physical disorders is detrimental. Ybarra said the Hogg Foundation has worked since 2006 for this initiative and making integrated health care a standard in Texas is finally an attainable goal.

“The Hogg Foundation strives to achieve a triple aim: better outcomes, greater patient satisfaction and decreased cost for treatment,” Ybarra said. “A patient does not need to go to the same old clinic down the road. They need coordinated care.”

Currently Texas does not require mental and physical health care providers to coordinate services, a stance the foundation says leads to further health problems in patients. In a statement, the Hogg Foundation said treating physical and mental issues simultaneously can lead to a faster recovery.

Stacy Wilson, a lawyer for the Texas Hospital Association, said primary care physicians are not prepared for patients with mental health conditions. The association advocates on behalf of health care professionals and educates the public about health regulations. Wilson said these primary care doctors are on the forefront of this issue because simply referring a patient needing mental care to another physician only complicates treatment.

“With this grant we have some really good starts, but we also have a long way to go,” Wilson said.

Wilson said if patients cannot be treated all at once, they tend to become sicker, more aggressive, more harmful to themselves and others and require more resources.

Bill Schlesinger, CEO of grant recipient Project Vida, said integrated health care seems like an obvious path. He said he believes that the state of Texas and the world will eventually move toward the integrated health care systems because they are more effective. Project Vida is the only organization receiving grant money for both planning and implementation.

Schlesinger said Project Vida needs to hire a variety of physicians in order to provide mental and physical health services to patients.

“A lot of people simultaneously suffer from anxiety or depression and diabetes or hypertension. Treating one of those at a time only makes it harder for the patient. We need to be able to treat those disorders at the same time,” Schlesinger said.

Printed on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 as: Grant funds coordinated health care