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Health & Well-Being
Integrated Health Care for a Healthier Community
The Samaritan Center’s mission is to provide professional counseling, integrative medicine, and community education to prevent and treat abuse, teach healthy life skills, and strengthen families.
The Integrated Health Care for a Healthier Community Project funded by Impact Austin’s grant will address the problem of a fragmented health care system by providing telepsychiatry services and by providing a full-time case manager. The telepsychiatric care will provide access to time-sensitive psychiatric assessments, medication adjustments and prescription assistance that is currently not available for 208 adults and children. The case manager will help clients access other needed services in the community as well as improve communication and coordination of care among the treating professionals and clients.
Over the 18 months of the project, the Samaritan Center encountered several challenges to providing services that ultimately allowed them to modify and streamline the program to provide services more cost effectively.
To begin, the Samaritan Center found that they were not able to provide services to children under 16 years of age as they were unable to recruit a child psychiatrist to be part of the program. They also found that their population had high cancellation rates (roughly 30-40 percent) and required more time directly with a psychiatrist versus the nurse practitioner. In addition, the third party vendor contracted to provide psychiatric services stopped providing care in Texas.
While these challenges were daunting, Samaritan Center learned from the national Telemental Health Institute that they were qualified to provide telespychiatry care without a third-party vendor, thus reducing costs. They also adjusted their evaluation and scheduling procedures to more efficiently target individuals who would benefit from telespsychiatry services and align them with the appropriate healthcare providers.
The response from their clients has been overwhelmingly positive. Throughout the course of the grant, more than 80 individuals participated in nearly 400 teletherapy sessions and an additional 193 clients received care management assistance for basic needs and coordination of other provider services.
One of these patients was “Samantha,” a single mom in her mid 30s. Samantha had grown up in a difficult family situation and became a victim of domestic violence and an alcoholic
as an adult. Her children had been removed from her home when she was referred to the Samaritan Center from her sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous. With a strong commitment to getting her life back together, Samantha started telepsychiatry services through SC, used its care management team to work with Child Protective Services, got rent assistance and is now seeing her children under supervised visits. She’ll soon be starting career counseling through the Samaritan Center and hopes to provide a safe and secure home for her children in the future.
The Samaritan Center reports how grateful they are to Impact Austin for providing them the opportunity to start their program on a small scale and gain expertise that allows them to serve more central Texans.