Wilmington may be among the first communities nationwide to pioneer a health care program integrating primary and behavioral care. New Hanover Regional Medical Center is working with Wilmington’s Coastal Horizons Center to develop a plan to divert those patients suffering mental health crises from the hospital ER to the nonprofit treatment center. Among other benefits, WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports that this partnership could cut down on overcrowded emergency room traffic.
A little over a year ago, Coastal Horizons won a federal grant to provide emergency mental health and substance abuse treatment, in addition to counseling services. Kenny House, the organization’s vice president for clinical services, says this has resulted in better care, as well as a forty to fifty percent decline in mental health patients seeking ER services.
"We’re able to decrease their utilization of the emergency room by having our patients simply get their primary care from us, here at Coastal Horizons. And that information started our conversations with the hospital as far as what we might develop as a pilot to actually take this some steps further."
House says the two organizations are meeting several times this month to identify and study similar integrated care models. It is unclear whether the partnership will require additional funding, but House says one of the benefits of integrated care is long-term cost management—for both patients and the health care system.