Providence Health Expansion Pairs Social Workers, Physicians To Improve Patient Outcomes

May 1, 2019
Originally published on May 1, 2019 5:27 pm

Providence Health and Services announced Wednesday that it is expanding behavioral health services in all nine of its primary care clinics in western Montana.

The move means more licensed clinical social workers will work in clinics in Missoula, Stevensville, Florence, Ronan and Polson. They’ll work with primary care physicians to improve patient outcomes in the kinds of places most Americans typically don’t go for mental or behavioral health specialty care.

Mary Windecker with the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana says proactively coordinating physical and behavioral health care is vital to reducing costly emergency department visits and in-patient stays later on.

"The hospitals are intricately involved in this, and I think they’re aware of it now, that this crisis has brought it to the forefront for everyone, that we have to work together all the way from primary care to acute care, everything in between."

Providence’s long-term goals with expanding so-called integrated behavioral health include reducing emergent mental health issues and suicide and substance use rates.

The expansion is supported by a two-year $200,000 grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation.

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