University of Minnesota Health is further cementing its commitment to patients by offering a convenient, “whole-person” approach to primary and behavioral healthcare at Smiley’s Family Medicine Clinic in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently recognized Smiley’s Clinic as “Behavioral Health Home” certified. Additional M Health locations are expected to receive the same certification in coming months.
Primary care clinics designated as behavioral health homes provide increased care coordination for eligible children and adults with serious mental illnesses who receive medical assistance. Enrolled patients are assigned a three-person team that includes a behavioral health provider, a social worker and a community health worker. Each member of the team is dedicated to helping patients assess and navigate their medical, behavioral and social care needs.
The addition of community health workers who will extend care beyond the brick-and-mortar clinics to homes and patients out in the community is a significant advantage to the new approach, according to Chris Beamish, LICSW, who is the director of system clinical integration for the M Health system.
The program’s multi-pronged care model is also important, because it includes identifying and addressing “social determinants” that may affect or complicate overall health.
“Health isn’t always the top priority when you’re worrying about where you’re going to sleep tomorrow or where your next meal may come from,” Beamish said. “This is a whole person service really designed to look at the comprehensive medical and behavioral health needs of the patients so that their whole health is considered and treated.”
Patients will be able to access same-day behavioral health care at Smiley’s Clinic, which includes an assessment and brief therapy services. Beamish said this is a big selling point of the new program, because it can sometimes take four to six weeks to see a therapist.
“That’s huge. The behavioral health provider can do a lot of good work with the patient in those four to six weeks and bridge them until they’re able see a regular therapist or provider,” he said.
Currently, Fairview Health Services and University of Minnesota Health are the largest primary care systems to have received the new certification from the state.