Twin Counties Improve Access to Mental Health Services at Multiple Community Health Centers

The Trust will fund two projects expanding behavioral health services at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Edgecombe and Nash Counties, as part of its long-term Healthy Places NC Initiative. Federally Qualified Health Centers, designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provide primary care services to underserved communities. The grants are part of a broader effort to expand access to behavioral health services and better “integrate” care in the greater Twin Counties region. Integrated care systematically coordinates general and behavioral health care needs, improving treatment and patients’ ability to be well.

Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (OIC) was awarded $964,752 to integrate behavioral health care into two Federally Qualified Health Centers in Rocky Mount. The project aims to provide integrated services to 14,000 patients per year. UNC NASH Hospital is leading the development of the behavioral health model and OIC has received technical assistance from Rural Health Group’s FQHC Integrated Care University, which is also supported by the Trust.

“Mental and substance abuse disorders increase and exacerbate patients’ preventable physical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease,” said Reuben Blackwell, CEO of Opportunities Industrialization Center. “Because the physical and behavioral conditions are linked, uncoordinated treatments do not help patients get well. Integrating physical and behavioral health care makes all the difference in the world.”

Carolina Family Health Centers, Inc. received $910,000 to expand behavioral health care services to low-income individuals at Federally Qualified Health Centers in Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson Counties. Two primary care locations—in Elm City and Princeville—will begin providing integrated care; the Wilson location will strengthen its integrated care by standardizing chronic disease management protocols. Overall, strengthened and expanded integrated health care services will impact over 10,000 patients.

“Too often, behavioral health care is left unnoticed, even though we know integrated care is so critical to people’s overall health,” said K. Jehan Benton-Clark, senior program officer for the Trust. “I’m impressed by how the Twin Counties community is coming together to fill a gap they saw in their health care system.”

Edgecombe and Nash Counties officially joined Healthy Places NC in April of 2015 after working with the Trust for several months. One of the issues highlighted during the Healthy Places NC launch and echoed by community members was a lack of behavioral health services in the area.

Through Healthy Places NC, the Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural, low-income countries over a 10-year period. Five other counties—Beaufort, Burke, Halifax, McDowell and Rockingham—currently participate in the initiative.

The Trust announced the Twin Counties grants as a part of its recent grant cycle, when the Trust approved more than $10 million in funding to improve the overall health of North Carolinians at the community level. For a complete list of grants approved by the Trust’s Health Care Division, click here.