What is Integrated Healthcare?
It is the systematic coordination of integrating mental health, substance
abuse, and primary care services when caring for people with multiple
People with mental and substance abuse disorders may die decades earlier
than the average person — mostly from untreated and preventable
chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular
disease that are aggravated by poor health habits such as inadequate physical
activity, poor nutrition, smoking, and substance abuse. Barriers to
primary care, coupled with challenges in navigating complex healthcare systems have
been a major obstacle to care.
At the same time,
primary care settings have become the gateway to the behavioral health system, and
primary care providers need support and resources to screen and treat
individuals with behavioral and general healthcare needs.
Integrated Health at JFCS
At our integrated health care centers, new clients fill out a health risk
assessment (HRA), which requests information about their physical activity
levels, social activities, cholesterol and glucose levels, and other health
information. After reviewing a client's HRA, our clinical staff are
assigned to work with the client to establish health goals and act as
a support system. Goals may be a simple as focusing on eating breakfast
three times a week or increasing physical activity. We start small and
meet the client where they're at. Depending on the client's needs,
our staff also help connect clients to community resources, talk them
through medical procedures, find them a doctor or dentist, go to appointments
with them, help them stay on AHCCCS, and even provide food boxes.
A final aspect of the program is education. Many clients are stuck in what
is called the symptom cycle. If they suffer from depression, the may struggle
to focus on eating well and exercising to reduce symptoms of diabetes.
And an inability to control a chronic condition like diabetes can feed
a person's depression. In addition to working with doctors to treat
the client's physical and mental health needs, JFCS has implemented
a six-week chronic disease self-management class that helps people manage
their particular condition. These 6-week classes are taught in a supportive
group setting and focus on nutrition, exercise, health management, decision
making, and goal setting.
JFCS Peer Navigator, Kelly Purnell (left) pictured here with a program