PinnacleHealth Affiliate J.C. Blair Receives Federal Grant to Expand Access to Behavioral Health Services

J.C. Blair Health System, a PinnacleHealth affiliate, announced that the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded a federal grant in the amount of $200,000.00 to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital.

“J.C. Blair is the only hospital in rural Huntingdon County where a Health Professional Shortage Area exists for primary care, mental health, and dental health care services,” said Adam Dimm, MBA, chief operating officer at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. “The primary goal of this grant project is to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care that will integrate an evidence-based behavioral health and physical health component into the physician office setting.”

The project will provide a level of coordinated patient engagement that offers the most benefit to patients in rural Huntingdon County. Programs like this have proven to be successful in enhancing patient relationships with health care providers, which improves their success rate in achieving health goals. The program enhances access to mental health support in a care environment with reduced stigma.

“Patients appreciate having a designated mental health provider available in the practice,” said Shelly Rivello, director of J.C. Blair Behavioral Health Services who will serve as the grant’s project director. “They like the added support that it brings to their treatment and helps them achieve their goals.”

The grant was awarded by HRSA through the Health Center Expanded Services supplemental funding opportunity, which supports community-based organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care. The funded program will take place in various primary and specialty care practices within J.C. Blair Medical Services to better serve both the physical and mental health needs of patients. A behavioral health consultant will meet with patients to evaluate their needs and provide support as part of the practice care team.

“This integrated approach benefits mental health, primary care, and specialty care practitioners, as they share the responsibility of managing patients with multiple health issues,” said Rivello. “More than half of mental health care is provided within primary care settings, with a majority of visits involving management of psychosocial issues. Integrating mental health services into primary and specialty care settings offers a promising, viable, and efficient way to provide access to care while minimizing stigma and discrimination.

The project will bring together a collaboration of medical and mental health groups: J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Medical Services, Juniata Valley Behavioral and Developmental Services, Juniata Valley Tri-County Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission, and PinnacleHealth System. This partnership creates a unique dynamic of clinical, administrative, political, financial, and community health resources focused on meeting the complex health needs of patients served in Huntingdon County.