Nurse Managed Health Center opens satellite clinic at mental health facility
2:17 p.m., Nov. 4, 2013--The Nurse Managed Health Center (NMHC) at Horizon House has been open for only a few weeks, but the nurse practitioners at the clinic have already had a big impact on one person’s life.
Their very first patient, a man in his 40s who was experiencing blurry vision, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Despite a family history, he was unaware he had the disease but is now on medication to control the condition. He has also received dietary counseling and been referred to an eye care professional.
Partnership for change
Allen Prettyman, director of the University of Delaware NMHC, couldn’t have hoped for a better story to share at the open house held to mark the launch of the NMHC’s first off-campus center on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The satellite clinic is now an integral part of the Horizon House ECHO Center in Newark, Del., which provides recovery-oriented outpatient services for adults with psychiatric, substance misuse, and co-occurring disorders.
Established through a partnership with the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), the center offers vision, EKG, blood sugar, rapid strep, urinalysis, and lung volume testing. It is currently open one day a week, but service will expand as needed. Horizon House patients can also visit the NMHC on the UD campus.
“Our goal is to improve the physical health of people with co-occurring addiction and psychiatric disorders,” he said. “By intervening early, as we did with the diabetic patient, we can help reduce health care costs and improve quality of life.”
More than 20 people from UD, Horizon House Inc., and DSAMH attended the open house.
“Congratulations and let me know when you want to expand,” said DSAMH Director Kevin Huckshorn. “We have lots of other sites.”
Expansion is exactly what Prettyman wants to see happen.
“As an academic institution, we’re interested in measuring outcomes and in figuring out what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “We want to develop a successful model of evidence-based practice and replicate it throughout the state.”
“For the next generation of health care professionals, integration of physical and mental health care will be a primary thought, not a secondary consideration,” she said.
Joshua Warweg, who is the manager of client care processes and outcomes at DSAMH and was instrumental in launching the partnership, said the center represents a step toward cultural change.
“People with persistent mental illness typically have a shortened lifespan, and this approach to embedded care can help mitigate that,” he said. “It can also help to erase some of the stigma and communication barriers that come with mental illness.”
Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson