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Maine Behavioral Healthcare
  Spring Harbor Hospital News

Spring Harbor Hospital receives $324K to expand mental health treatment in primary care

(November 19, 2007)--A $324,000 grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) will help Spring Harbor Hospital and partner organizations expand their program to integrate mental health treatment in primary care practices across the state.
 
News of the grant was released last Friday by MeHAF, the state's largest health care philanthropic foundation.
 
With the funding, Spring Harbor and partners Maine Medical Center and MaineHealth will expand the number of primary care practices involved in their Mental Health Integration Program from six to 18 or more. Current pilot sites include physician offices in Boothbay Harbor, Lewiston, Norway, Rockland, Portland, and Winthrop. Practices in Augusta, Brunswick, and Damariscotta are among those scheduled to begin piloting the new model over the next two years.
 
In collaboration, Spring Harbor, Maine Medical Center, and MaineHealth have established clinical tools and protocols to help primary care physicians better diagnose and treat mental health problems. Known as "integrated treatment," the approach includes mental health professionals who see patients in the primary care office, as well as ongoing technical support and consultation from psychiatrists and other experts. The goal is to deliver timely, high-quality mental health treatment within the primary care setting and help patients access local specialty treatment if necessary.
 
"With Maine's shortage of psychiatrists, this treatment approach makes good sense," says Spring Harbor Hospital and Maine Medical Center Chief of Psychiatry Girard Robinson, MD. "Statistics show that nearly half of all mental health treatment is delivered in the primary care setting, and this model supports both best practice and a reliable, local system of care.”
 
Robinson says the Mental Health Integration model helps physicians improve not only their health care delivery, but also their ability to detect mental health problems at the earliest possible time, when treatment is most effective.
 
Integrating mental health treatment in primary care is not a new concept. Since 1999, the Intermountain Health Care system in Utah has been bringing a similar approach to physician practices throughout that state. In fact, the clinical tools and protocols developed by Intermountain have been customized by Spring Harbor to meet the needs of Maine primary care physicians.
 
Neil Korsen, MD, associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Maine Medical Center and medical director of the Mental Health Integration program, has been a champion of this approach in Maine since 2001. Based on the Chronic Care Model and backed by national funders such as The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and  MacArthur Foundation, as well as Maine's JTG Foundation, Korsen's research laid the groundwork for the Spring Harbor model.
 
"It has been a privilege working with the primary care practitioners who have been piloting this model," Korsen notes. "Their interest in the relationship between psychiatric and medical illness and how it can affect a person's overall health is a great service to their patients. They are paving the way for more practices to accept and further develop the model.” 
 
The program's six original Maine pilot sites are: Greater Portland Pediatrics on Park Avenue in Portland; Western Maine Pediatrics in Norway; the B Street Clinic in Lewiston; the Winthrop Family Practice; the office of Robert Merrill, MD, in Rockport; and the St. Andrews Family Care Center in Boothbay Harbor.
 
"We are very grateful for the support of the Maine Health Access Foundation," says Spring Harbor CEO Dennis King. "We also owe a debt of gratitude to our many community mental health and primary care partners, as well as the program staff at Maine Medical Center and MaineHealth, who have worked so hard to make this collaborative successful and will help us improve the model going forward."
 
Through locations across Greater Portland and agreements with providers statewide, Spring Harbor Hospital offers the region's most complete nonprofit mental health and co-occurring substance abuse treatment, training, and research programs serving youth and adults. To learn more, call 207-761-2200 or visit www.springharbor.org .



 

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123 Andover Road, Westbrook, Maine 04092 | 1-866-857-6644, 207-761-2200