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Partnerships can expand care access (video, story)

Health experts offer testimony to state panel

Mar. 27, 2013
 
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Dr. Mark Rovick with Catalpa Health in Grand Chute discusses what state lawmakers can do to expand mental health care access.

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NEENAH — Fox Cities health officials say strategic partnerships can be one way to expand mental health care access statewide.

Representatives from Appleton-based ThedaCare, Affinity Health System in Menasha and Catalpa Health in Grand Chute were among more than two dozen health professionals who gathered at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah to provide testimony to a state task force on what can be done to improve access to mental health services.

Gov. Scott Walker in his proposed budget set aside $30 million for mental health programs, which would expand community-based care for adults and children with severe mental illness. Discussions continue over the state’s biennial budget, which is supposed to be approved by the end of June.

Dr. Mark Rovick, medical director at Catalpa Health, said things can be done to expand access to care at minimal cost.

Making it easier for providers to share medical records would be a good start, he said.

“So that (providers) can access information and share information about patients, so patients can get the best care they can,” Rovick said. If a provider has access to a patient’s medical history, it ensures fewer errors and gives patients the specific care they need.

Catalpa Health itself was pointed to as an effective collaboration and pooling of resources. The organization was formed through a partnership between ThedaCare, Affinity and Children’s Hospital to deal with adolescent mental health issues.

Jean DeKeyser, executive director of ThedaCare Behavioral Health, said during her testimony that the partnership offers help beyond the patient.

“What’s wonderful about this work is that when you can reach the children, you can help entire families,” she said.

Collaboration between providers in the Fox Cities also led to the NEW Mental Health Connection, an effort to improve access to the region’s mental health services.

Amanda Matthews, the organization’s executive director, during her testimony said its school-based mental health efforts have opened access to youths.

“We see ourselves helping to coordinate and champion the work of the organizations delivering these services,” she said. “Our goals are to continue to make sure that we don’t have duplication and that this effort continues to receive the funding that is required to sustain it.”

— Larry Avila: 920-993-1000, ext. 292, or lavila@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @LarryAvila

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