By Corinne Cavender, Behavioral Health Operations Coordinator
Last month, we highlighted Uncompahgre Medical Center’s integrated care model. For this month’s edition of Mental Health Matters on KOTO, we interviewed Lindsay Wright, LMFT from Telluride Regional Medical Center (TRMC) and learned that integrated health care is not exclusive to the west end of the county. TRMC is also integrating behavioral health clinicians into primary care visits.
“There are two behavioral health counselors on staff, me and Rae Shaffner, MSW, LCSW, and we split our time doing two different things” Lindsay explained. “Every day, one of us is working with the doctors in an integrated care model. In that model, primary care patients have the option to talk with us if they would like. That visit can include discussing coping skills, listening to someone describe what they are going through, and or connecting them to different services. Then on the days we are not working with the primary care doctors, Rae and I hold small caseloads of individual clients”.
To talk with Lindsay or Rae, patients make appointments with their primary care doctors. Lindsay explained the benefits of this by saying “If someone wants to talk about medication or nutrition, your primary care doctor and behavioral health clinician can answer those questions in a team setting”. By making this connection, TRMC’s integrated model is highlighting the connection between thought processes and pain, and mental and physical health. This in turn normalizes the notion that our minds are not separate from our bodies. Lindsay further explained that often patients come into their appointments to discuss a physical health issue and it comes up that they are also going through a difficult life event. In these moments, Lindsay or Rae can be called in.
When asked how this integrated model improves behavioral health outcomes in the community Lindsay noted “The integrated model is a good service because patients can come in for a regular appointment and we can catch mental health issues early before they build into bigger issues. We are starting important conversations earlier”. Early intervention is critical in addressing both mental and physical health issues. The earlier a problem is identified, the better off a patient will be.
The reason integrated care models are so important is because mental health and physical health are intrinsically linked. Think about it, just like your brain is not physically separated from the rest of your body, your mental and physical health are not separate. Poor physical health leads to an increased risk for developing mental health conditions and poor mental health leads to an increased risk for developing physical health conditions. TRMC acknowledges this fact and has established itself as an organization that values a holistic approach to being healthy. This includes a full spectrum of services for the whole person, body, mind and spirt.
To hear the full interview, listen to the recording below:
To learn more about Telluride Regional Medical Center’s services and to make an appointment, click here.