Sweet Medical Center Awarded Grants

Sweet Medical Center (SMC) is proud to announce they were recently awarded two grants for integrating behavioral health into the clinic’s primary care services. The Montana Healthcare Foundation awarded SMC a one-year planning grant of $48,215 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded SMC $175,000 to support expansion and integration of mental health and substance abuse services.

As part of SMC’s commitment to empowering people to live healthy lives, the local health center is working to add behavioral health to the suite of services offered at its Chinook and Harlem clinics. The Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF), HRSA and SMC recognize the importance that programs addressing the needs of patients with co-occurring mental illness and/or substance use disorders and chronic physical illnesses can play in improving health outcomes across this spectrum and consequently, help contain healthcare costs. Integrated behavioral health is defined as the care that results from a practice team of primary care and behavioral health clinicians, working together with patients and families, using systematic and cost-effective approach to provide patient-centered care for a defined population. This care may address mental health and substance abuse conditions, health behaviors (including their contributions to chronic mental illnesses), life stressors and crises, stress-related physical symptoms and ineffective patterns of health care utilization.

The 2017 Community Health Assessment conducted by the Blaine County Health Department identified the top health concerns in the area as mental health (including depression and anxiety), diabetes, obesity, heart disease and oral health. Dana Pyette, SMC CEO explains, “Integrated care is a holistic approach to patient care in which treatment and assistance are provided for more than the initial ailment or health concern a patient presents.  Our goal is to empower patients to make positive change for themselves. The core to this empowerment is education, information and support.  Healthy living is achieved through behavioral changes relating to healthy eating, chronic illness management, positive thinking, and depression management and addiction control.” Pyette is grateful for the MHCF and HRSA grants. “These grants will help SMC conduct the necessary research, receive the appropriate training and build the required partnerships to create a sustainable integrated behavioral health program, which will have far-reaching benefits for our patients and the region.”

SMC is currently contracting with a local behavioral health specialist, as well as the National Council for Behavioral Health to assist in the planning and implementation of the center’s behavioral health and addiction services expansion. Area residents can look forward to these services in mid-2018. SMC continues its relationship with the Center For Mental Health and local residents are currently able to see Sheree Leo, LCPC in the Chinook clinic on Tuesdays.

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