Agency News | Integrating behavioral and medical health care

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Integrating behavioral and medical health care Bookmark

When we think about our primary health, we don’t, at times, relate it to our behavioral health and vice-versa.  As Sylvia Muzquiz- Drummond, M.D., the Medical Director for Mental Health Services at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, points out, it is important to recognize the connection between the two.

“It’s important to address both emotional/ behavioral issues along with medical issues. We know that many individuals who have mental health issues also have significant medical issues. So, addressing both is important for an individual to get healthy,” Dr. Muzquiz said.

To help our consumers access behavioral and primary health services, The Harris Center has collaborations with Legacy Community Health and El Centro de Corazón. These Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) provide the primary health care in the same location that they receive behavioral health services.

Currently, Legacy Community Health has a clinic at The Harris Center’s Southwest Clinic that offers a variety of services including adult primary care.

“When you can integrate primary and behavioral health care under one roof, it really helps serve the patient,” said Patricia Hayes, M.D., medical director for Legacy Community Health. “Our goal is to improve health outcomes, and research has shown collaborative models of care does just that.”

Our collaborations with FQHCs began with El Centro de Corazón, when senior leadership from both organizations recognized that you “can’t achieve holistic overall health without both [mental health and primary care],” El Centro de Corazón Medical Director Kavon L. Young, M.D., said.

“Our goal is to have a positive impact on the lives of every person that seeks care with us. We have been in the East End for over 23 years, starting first as a social services agency and then reaching in to medical care. We seek to identify those social factors that play a contributing role to the patient’s health and how we can connect them to community resources that will help contribute to positive health outcomes,” Dr. Young said.

It is through the consumers’ experiences that we are able to see the importance of these co-locations. Ollie Horton was actually referred to El Centro de Corazón by her case manager at The Harris Center.

Thanks to this referral, Horton was able to find out that she had a cyst that she did not even know was there, and she was able to take care of it. She is very thankful for the easy access to both her behavioral and primary health care in one location.

“It helps me a lot, I can get everything done at one place. I don’t have to be running all over Harris County. I love that, and it’s beneficial to my health because it’s hard for me to get around at times because of my hip replacement surgery that I need. With them being in the same spot, same place, it’s very convenient for me,” Horton said.


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