Myrtue Medical Center works with community partners and the general public to determine health care priorities through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) provided by Myrtue’s Public Health Department. The most recent Public Health CHNA was completed in early 2016. Among the highest level of responses was a need for mental wellness and more willingness to seek help. This is one of several priorities identified by the community and being addressed by Myrtue Medical Center, in partnership with Shelby County Public Health.
“Myrtue’s response to the increased need is encouraging and supportive to the Behavioral Health Department,” said Deb Meissner, Director of Myrtue Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Department. “We are hiring qualified candidates and providing support, education, ongoing training and loan forgiveness to qualified health providers via the National Health Service Corps. Mental Health is becoming more understood and accepted because the human experience includes experiencing stress, grief, and at times difficulty adjusting to a life change. This normalization has lessened people’s fears of seeing a mental health provider, which in turn, has put a strain on access to mental health care,” said Meissner.
According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), workforce projections show demand for addiction and mental health services will outpace supply of practitioners in the next decade.
The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program supports behavioral health therapists, registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), by paying for a portion of their unpaid education debt. Myrtue is an approved site under the Health Service Corps student loan forgiveness program and currently has employees within the Myrtue system enrolled in the program.
To meet the growing demand for mental health services, the Behavioral Health Department is continuing to expand and increase its staff. Currently, Myrtue has eight Therapists and three Community Support Services staff. Two Nurse Practitioners provide counseling and medication management. A Substance Abuse Counselor manages the Drug and Alcohol Program which includes individual and family counseling, assessment, evaluation, Intensive Outpatient and Extended Outpatient therapies. Myrtue’s Behavioral Health Department contracts with 11 organizations throughout Shelby County to provide Employee Assistance Program services.
In addition, Myrtue has a Psychiatrist, Dr. Rodney Dean, who offers clinic in Harlan three times a month. Also, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Eggers, provides telemedicine through a video conference session to children and adolescent clients four times a month.
By recognizing the consequence of trauma and the effects on mental wellness, Behavioral Health has emerged as a center of excellence in understanding, learning and training on how to provide trauma-informed care. Myrtue’s Behavioral Health is committed to practicing evidence-based, cutting-edge therapy and protocols to address the cumulative impact of trauma and mental health and substance abuse issues.
In response to priorities identified by the community, Myrtue Medical Center, Behavioral Health and Public Health Departments, have several notable Community Health Improvement Plan achievements in the past year:
- Collaboration with the Shelby County Wellness Alliance in promoting physical activity among all ages. Six community health/resource educational events have been held in the past year throughout the community.
- Partnering with specialty providers to bring specialized care to Myrtue, including a female OB/GYN coming in 2020.
- Increased access to medical care through extended hours at the Harlan Rural Health Clinic, as well as extended hours at Behavioral Health.
- The formation of the Lean Into Life Support Group for widows/widowers.
- Collaboration with Northwestern University for Mothers and Babies Support Groups/Curriculum for pregnant women.
- Board of Health approval of Radon and E-smoking Community Ordinances.
- Community radon education, contributing to approximately 20% greater radon kit sales in the past year.
Additional information on the Community Health Needs Assessment is available on Myrtue’s website.