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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD received $836,243 from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program to enhance its telehealth service infrastructure. The FCC received funding for this program through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The FCC funds will enable The Harris Center to further expand access to behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services for Harris County residents via telehealth platforms.
The Harris Center provided telehealth services long before the pandemic emergency hit the community through its Clinician Officer Remote Evaluation program, where licensed Harris Center clinicians assess individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to avoid psychiatric hospitalization or incarceration. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, The Harris Center has increased its telehealth capacity by 223 percent in just three months.
The Harris Center quickly adapted its service models to provide telehealth services to patients in their homes to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wayne Young, chief executive officer, addressed the need for swift service modifications stating, “One of the key goals of our strategic plan is to provide care without limitations and increase access to become the most innovative behavioral health system in the country. With the impact of COVID-19 and The Harris Center’s response to protect staff and the people we serve, it is fair to say this strategic initiative has taken a giant leap.”
The funds The Harris Center received from the FCC, through the CARES Act, will strengthen its ability to extend access to more Harris County residents in a way that does not put treatment team members or clients at risk during the pandemic. In addition, this technology will reach more people in need of behavioral health supports and decrease barriers to access behavioral health treatment such as a lack of transportation, child care or missed work.
“Telehealth has become an invaluable resource to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic, including those who need critical behavioral and mental health care,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “From the very beginning, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has supported mental health care providers’ efforts to incorporate remote counseling and telehealth for a variety of mental health needs into their care structure. Implementing remote mental health care services to treat patients from the comfort of their home will ensure critical care for Houston residents and their families.”
Mustafa Cochinwala, chief information officer, celebrated their efforts as they worked around the clock to boost the capacity of the organization’s information technology systems.
“In just two weeks, our team ordered laptops and tablets to provide rapid remote services,” Cochinwala said. “I am so proud of our team for adapting to the new systems and for all those who conducted trainings and provided technical support to ensure we can continue to provide services during these difficult times.”
The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, The Harris Center provided care to over 79,000 people in fiscal year 2019. Learn more at TheHarrisCenter.org
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, in cooperation with Harris County Probate Court 3 and the University of Houston, has received a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program for people with serious mental illness.
HOUSTON, October 1, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of individuals who are homeless and have mental illnesses. It is not only the unhealthy conditions on the streets that make the unsheltered homeless “at-risk” to COVID-19; most suffer from underlying, chronic health conditions. An estimated 15-25% of individuals experiencing homelessness throughout Harris County and the greater Houston area suffer from severe mental health issues making it difficult for city, county and local partners to quickly assist and house them out of harm’s way. Social distancing requirements have also reduced homeless shelter capacity. These extremely acute individuals have a large impact on first responders and hospitals by routinely requiring emergency intervention. These individuals increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to first responders and the community
Madison Lamont, Miss Harris County 2020, is partnering with The Harris Center to highlight the importance of Mental Health Awareness. We met Miss Harris County earlier this year to learn more about her social initiative and share about the resources available to Harris County residents through The Harris Center.
Do you currently receive mental health and/or substance use treatment services from The Harris Center? Did you receive any of those services from us in the past? Are you a family member of someone who receives these services or received them in the past?
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HOUSTON – Feb. 11, 2020 – The Board of Trustees of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD approved today a significant step to move forward with the implementation of an Electronic Health Record system (EHR) that will bring improved health outcomes for those with serious mental illness in Harris County. The Harris Center is working with Harris Health System to implement a tailored to fit EHR to support the center’s complex health care operations.
Every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” As part of this month’s activities, The Harris Center is highlighting our recent summer internship collaboration with the H.E.A.R.T. Program.For many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), finding jobs out in the “real world” may not always come easy. As part of The Harris Center’s commitment to transform the lives of people with IDD, the agency recently collaborated with the H.E.A.R.T. Program to provide summer internships to individuals with IDD to allow them the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience across our agency’s various programs.
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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