Case Studies

Unity Health - Behavioral Health Services

Searcy, AR

Overview
One of the most pressing gaps in community care was adequate behavioral health for adolescents. Building on its already existing behavioral health services, in July 2015 Unity Health opened a new adolescent behavioral health unit, Unity Health – Courage. This service stemmed from the needs expressed in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) results. The unit is a short-term, acute inpatient program designed for adolescents ages 12 to 17 who are still in school with emotional or behavioral issues. In addition to Courage, Unity Health began training physician residents to become board-certified psychiatrists. Currently, Unity Health’s Graduate Medical Education program is the only osteopathic residency program for psychiatry in the state of Arkansas.

Patients are admitted to the program after being referred by a physician or school counselor. Parents can also call an intake coordinator from the Courage unit who can help determine the student’s needs. On average, adolescent patients will stay in the unit for 7 to 10 days, where they attend school during the day with an on-staff special-needs educator and go through therapy and treatment. The treatment team consists of a psychiatrist, medical doctor, therapist, nurse, a special education teacher, therapeutic recreation specialist, dietitians, mental health technicians, as well as occupational, speech and physical therapy services.

In addition, Unity Health relocated their Unity Health – Clarity Health and Wellness Clinic, which offers behavioral health services for all ages. This decision was made in response to seeing a need to streamline services. The new location made it possible to place three psychiatrists in one convenient location, making it easier for patients to access the care they needed.

Impact
From the north Arkansas border down, there were no inpatient adolescent behavioral health services available. People were very limited in access to care. There were referrals but no place to admit them because other locations stayed full. With the opening of Courage, Unity Health has helped meet a growing need for the state.

Lessons Learned
Through this process, program leaders learned that it was crucial to understand physicians’ expectations of the admissions processes and to work more closely with the Department of Health & Human Services and have them as a part of the initial process.

Future Goals
Program leaders have become increasingly more aware of behavioral health service needs and have begun increasing behavioral health services with plans to expand into other counties. So far, the program has been expanded by the opening of a school-based medical clinic in Bradford, Ark., which offers behavioral health services including an on-campus psychiatrist.

Contact: Brooke Pryor
Director of Marketing
Telephone: 501-940-7175
Email: bpryor@wcmc.org


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