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updated: 10/24/2012 2:08 PM

$1.5 million grant will integrate health services for adults with mental illnesses

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) proudly announces that is has been awarded a $1.5 million grant that will help DuPage County residents with serious mental illness (SMI) by integrating behavioral health and primary care services.

The grant from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will provide approximately $375,000 in funding for each of the next four years to improve the physical health status of people with SMI and addictions.

Research indicates that on average, individuals with SMI die 25 years earlier than the general population, mostly from untreated and preventable chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Poor health habits, coupled with barriers to primary care, such as navigating complex healthcare systems, have been major obstacles to care.

The solution lies in integrated care, which is the goal of this grant to DCHD, a licensed Illinois behavioral health services provider. DCHD will partner with VNA Health Care (VNA), a community--based medical services provider, to integrate behavioral health and primary care for adults with SMI.

Specifically, the SAMHSA grant will accomplish the following:

• Support on-site primary medical services at DCHD (Wheaton).

• Improve the physical health status of adults with SMI who have been or are at risk for co-occurring primary care conditions and chronic disease.

• Enhance the consumer's experience of care, including quality, access and reliability of care.

• Reduce or control the cost of care.

"This grant is encouraging news for DuPage County families who have a family member with SMI. The Health Department and VNA will be working together to integrate behavioral health and primary care so our clients can overcome healthcare obstacles and achieve better health," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the DuPage County Board of Health.

DCHD and VNA will implement an integrated care pilot project, MYCARE, to address the health disparities experienced by clients with SMI, using the co-located partnership model to provide integrated services.

Integrated care will result in:

• Improved access to primary care services.

• Improved prevention, early detection and intervention to reduce the incidence of serious physical illnesses, including chronic disease.

• Increased availability of integrated, holistic care for behavioral and physical disorders.

• Better overall health status of clients.

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