Impact Health of Iredell: A new tool in treatment of addiction, mental illness
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Impact Health of Iredell will open its doors for the first time to help Iredell County citizens on Wednesday, August 30.
This new healthcare option, which provides treatment for behavioral health crises, mental illness, substance use disorder, and intellectual or developmental disability issues, is located at 518 Signal Hill Drive Extension.
At Wednesday's open house, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m., the staff will give guided tours of the new facility to the public and answer questions about its services. Light refreshments will also be served.
This facility will treat both the primary care and behavioral health needs of adults and children in one place, using a team of experienced professionals. The staff, composed of a nurse practitioner, an RN, a psychiatrist, counselors, and peer specialists, will help build bridges between patients, medical providers, and other resources to treat patients utilizing a whole person, integrated care philosophy.
Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) will also be available to work with individuals who have Medicaid to make sure that they have access to community services.
Though appointments are encouraged, walk-ins are welcome. If a person needs help, he or she will get it that day, according to Jerry Campbell, Whole Person Integrated Care County Lead of Partners Behavioral Health Management (PBHM).
“They would be assessed today and then referred to appropriate treatment as needed,” Campbell explaiined.
If an emergency behavioral or physical health issue is apparent, patients will be taken to a hospital or other care facility.
Impact Health of Iredell is a product of years of effort by a team of local providers and officials who wanted better care for individuals with behavioral health needs in the county and surrounding areas.
The team came up with the idea of a treatment “hub,” a safe place for individuals to get behavioral health support not otherwise available. Avoiding trips to the local emergency departments, which are not equipped for that type of care, is a ky part of the mission.
Four behavioral community health partners came together to make Impact Health a reality: Children’s Hope Alliance, Turning Point Family Services, Daymark Recovery Services, and Partners in Quality Achievements, with the assistance of PBHM and local government support.
INTEGRATED CARE PHILOSOPHY
The center will focus on treating both the physical and behavior needs of patients, one of which often gets overlooked in non-integrated care. “Everybody who comes in will first see a primary care nurse practitioner and then have a behavioral health assessment to help determine their needs,” Campbell said.
“This integrated care approach is a national standard. What we’ve done in our area is to flip that model and bring the primary care piece into the behavioral health component to address the stigma that individuals have that keep them from primary care appointments in general,” he explained.
Impact Health is also currently looking to work with Iredell County Transportation Services (ICATS) and other organizations to meet clients’ transportation needs to get to the facility.
“We also will be working with local law enforcement and EMS to come to Impact Health of Iredell during our work hours instead of taking a person with a behavioral health issue to the emergency room,” said Campbell.
The providers will also partner with the three county emergency departments to link patients to more appropriate treatment options.
Campbell hopes Impact Health will help change the landscape of care options in Iredell County. “It will improve access [to behavioral health care], one of our core components, and hopefully over time reduce the stigma attached to behavioral health needs.”
Another important component of Impact Health of Iredell’s philosophy is the peer specialist, a staff member who will help clients navigate the community to access things like occupational or educational help, transportation assistance, or recreational or childcare information.
The peer support staff also follows up to make sure clients are making and going to their treatment appointments and staying on track to recovery. They also make referrals for whatever issues emerge along the way, according to Campbell.
“We want them to engage in their own treatment process,” he added.
Campbell looks to local entities and agencies to partner with Impact Health to care not only for patients but for their entire families.
“A lot of the people we are speaking about have co-existing issues, and they are making decisions on whether or not they are going to get their medication or get help for their behavioral or substance use needs or put food on the family’s table.”
“We’re not only looking at the physical and the behavioral,” said Campbell. “We’re looking at the other pieces that impact them as well. We want to address the issues that are keeping them from being a part of the community and producing for the community.”
“The longer term goal is to get these individuals into care to break the cycle that they are in and hopefully get them to be a support to others in their community as well.”
ASSOCIATED COMMUNITY IMPACTS
“There’s opportunity, if there’s community buy-in, that it can increase our tax base and have an impact on businesses because you’ll be able to redirect federal, state, county and local dollars towards other areas,” Campbell continued.
“It’s very expensive when people are showing up at the emergency department for these things,” added Campbell. “If we can redirect them and get them preventative care, there’s a huge opportunity for impact on that.”
Campbell emphasized that costs of mental health and addiction issues affects everyone, whether they know it or not, because “we are looking at a $5,000 to $10,000 ED visit versus $500 to $600 in treatment.”
“It’s kind of like your car,” Campbell explained. “You can change the oil regularly and pay $25 to $30 every 3,000 miles or you can replace the motor without regular care. We’re trying to get people to ‘change their oil’ and do preventative work early so they don’t have to do the things that are very expensive for the community.”
Addiction also has impact on economic and workforce development as well as the future of the community, added Campbell. “If you get an adult in the cycle of substance use and their issues are not getting addressed, they are exposing their children to the same trauma that they are dealing with, and their children will grow up in this same cyclical world, creating another generation with the same issues.”
Campbell emphasized that improving substance use treatment and behavioral health must involve everyone in the county to be successful.
“We’re trying to involve the whole community, people who have historically or typically not been involved in supporting this issue. We’re trying to reach out and engage the community at large to recognize this as a contribution to the community.”
“If we don’t get the businesses as well as the public groups and agencies involved and supportive, we’re still going to have that stigma associated with behavioral health issues,” said Campbell.