Dixie Regional Medical Center – Doctor's Volunteer Clinic

In 2006, Intermountain Health designated a system-wide fund for mental health initiatives throughout the state. The driving philosophy was to increase access to follow-up care for hospital patients, decrease the use of the emergency departments (EDs), and provide personal medication management and counseling. Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center was faced with limited beds and lack of sufficient detox or behavioral health services for patients who required care management but not to the extent of admittance. There was a lack of mid-level care and counseling for these patients, especially among the low-income or homeless population. An indicator of the lack of behavioral health services was mirrored in the state’s suicide rate that was consistently higher than the national average for over a decade.

Overview

In 2006, Intermountain Health designated a system-wide fund for mental health initiatives throughout the state. The driving philosophy was to increase access to follow-up care for hospital patients, decrease the use of the emergency departments (EDs), and provide personal medication management and counseling. Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center was faced with limited beds and lack of sufficient detox or behavioral health services for patients who required care management but not to the extent of admittance. There was a lack of mid-level care and counseling for these patients, especially among the low-income or homeless population. An indicator of the lack of behavioral health services was mirrored in the state’s suicide rate that was consistently higher than the national average for over a decade.

In 2007, Intermountain Dixie Regional partnered with the Doctor’s Volunteer Clinic (DVC) to provide funding equal to the expense of employing a mental health counselor as part of a system-wide effort to create community-based Behavioral Health Networks. The aim of the network was for uninsured mental health patients to have a follow-up appointment within seven days, and the partnership with DVC became a cornerstone of this effort. The pilot showed great success, and funding has continued to the present day.

Impact

The DVC provides medical and behavioral health services through the generosity and commitment of the community. In addition to the funding provided for mental health services, Intermountain Dixie Regional supports the DVC through leadership and provider volunteerism and donations. The hospital medical director and chief financial officer both serve as board members, and contributions are made annually including lab supplies and diagnostic vouchers. The DVC also received funding from Intermountain in 2016 for technology upgrades that enabled the clinic to transition to electronic medical records. In return, the DVC has provided an invaluable service to those most in need. Outcomes show that ED remittance among patients who receive a referral are significantly lower and that those rates improve in correlation with appointments per patient. Moreover, it gives DVC the ability to act as a safety net for those who would have otherwise gone untreated. Receiving adequate mental health management and substance abuse counseling allows many of these individuals to return to work, school, and home. In 2016, the DVC had 5,244 mental health encounters or approximately 440 patient visits a month. Mental health patients represent 42 percent of total clinic encounters including medical and dental visits. Direct referrals from patients discharged from Intermountain Dixie Regional ED and Behavioral Medicine Unit amount to 21 percent of the DVC’s total mental health patients.

Lessons Learned

Intermountain Dixie Regional leaders were aware of the need for mental health services in the community, but the gap was even larger than anticipated. Seeing the number of patients served annually by this network has been in equal parts satisfying and motivating. With the addition of another larger homeless shelter in the community and more awareness about the proactive treatment of mental health in combating a range of social and medical issues such as addiction, homelessness, violence, and malnutrition, Intermountain Dixie Regional leaders see a need to connect community agencies and create a network that can be assisted by a host of community partners.

Future Goals

Intermountain Dixie Regional strives to continue fostering the partnership with the DVC. An agreement was drafted in 2014 to provide $140,000 over the next four years for mental health services. This funding comes from the central office budget, and as this grant expires in 2018, regional leaders are working in cooperation with the DVC to secure funds that will allow the sustainability of this important behavioral health network.

Contact: Terri Draper
Communications Director
Telephone: 435-251-2108
Email: terri.draper@imail.org

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