Pine Rest Awarded Major Federal Grant to Administer New Health Technology in Rural Michigan

Pine Rest Awarded Major Federal Grant to Administer New Health Technology in Rural Michigan

(September 20, 2016) Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services was recently awarded $834,000 from HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the Expand Care Coordination Targeted Capacity Expansion (TCE) through the Use of Technology Assisted Care (TAC) in Targeted Areas of Need program.

Through the use of telehealth, the goal of the program is to provide assessment, and group and individual therapy to expand outpatient treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions to adults in underserved rural areas in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Program enrollment begins in October. Through grants funds over the next three years, Pine Rest will serve 300 individuals who have little or no access to substance use disorder treatment services. Pine Rest will use its Traverse City Clinic as a base of operation to administer the telehealth program to the surrounding rural counties of Benzie, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Manistee. Therapists based in Traverse City will conduct evidenced-based assessment and therapy through a videoconferencing platform.

Mark Eastburg, Ph.D., Pine Rest president and CEO, has been leading the organization’s national efforts to partner with SAMHSA to increase access to care in rural and underserved communities in Michigan. “We are excited to combine our evidence-based practices with technology to increase access and service in rural areas in northern Michigan where there is little or no access to substance use disorder treatment services. There are only a few providers in this area, and in rural communities, the stigma of accessing substance abuse treatment is often a barrier. Our hope is to also raise awareness about the disorder and its solutions.”

Pine Rest’s program will support SAMHSA’s national initiative on Health Information Technology to advance the use of technology to support integrated behavioral health care and its potential to transform the health care system.

The outcome of Pine Rest’s treatment models will be used to influence the national discussion on health information technology within behavioral health programs. SAMHSA’s program is designed to help local health systems move towards greater use of technology assisted care in support of health information technology for service delivery, quality improvement, cost containment, and increased patient involvement in health care.

“This new program will bring the expertise we have in our Traverse City Clinic to locations throughout the four rural counties, increasing accessibility,” says Karen Goodman, LMSW, MHP, Pine Rest Traverse City clinic manager.

Enrollment for this new program will begin in October. In the grant request, it was noted that there are several issues in getting the proper substance use treatment:

  1. It is difficult for people to travel to Traverse City for ongoing treatment and many people can’t afford the travel expense.
  2. It is also difficult to get into services in rural counties due to the shortage of clinicians.
  3. Most of these communities have limited transportation systems serving the out county area.

Pine Rest is partnering with Centra Wellness and Northwest Michigan Health Services. Additionally, there will be ongoing discussions with other behavioral health providers, law enforcement personnel, schools, different tribal members and court personnel as this program continues to grow. Pine Rest is working with its partners to secure locations for support hubs to provide telehealth services for individuals who do not have internet service. Pine Rest will coordinate locations, staffing to support patients from simple tasks of checking in, to assisting with any technology issues.

Once a referral or request for service is made, a Pine Rest recovery coach will meet with the individual and review the program guidelines, assist in program enrollment, and set an assessment meeting with the therapist. The first therapy meeting can be via a tablet, or the person can choose to attend the assessment in person. Tablets will be provided for all participants.

“I see this as a great opportunity in Northern Michigan. This is a way to provide people with the treatment they need, and allow for confidentiality and possibly the comfort of their own home when working through some difficult issues. However, being at home is not good for everyone, these drop in locations will serve the need of those individuals,” says Goodman.

“As a native Northern Michigan resident, I know how hard it is to find ‘specialized’ treatments, the time and money it costs to travel, or to look for services outside your community in order to keep your care confidential. These difficulties could all be addressed with the blending of technology and therapy.”

Appointments for this Traverse City Clinic program, 1050 Silver Drive, can be made by calling 866.852.4001.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

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