Mind, Body & Spirit Treated at Clinics
disease management, immunizations, treatment and education for acute and chronic illnesses,
women’s healthcare and other much-needed healthcare services.
Primary care services are provided in the same environment where patients currently receive behavioral and mental health services. Integrating primary and behavioral health services allows for treatment of the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Since many of the children seen at the clinic had not previously gone to a primary care doctor, they required intensive attention by the doctor and medical staff and presented at risk for several chronic diseases. The doctors at both the pediatric and family clinics treat chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, which research has shown to be leading contributors to early death occurrence for youth and children who are solely treated for behavioral health needs. These factors also shorten the life expectancy of adults with mental illness by 25 years as compared to the general population.
The care provided in the Mi Salud Clinics is complemented by the treatment team’s attention to
care coordination. Patients receiving both behavioral health and primary healthcare at Valle del Sol receive their care from a team of professionals in regular communication to ensure the right treatment is being provided and to eliminate duplication of efforts. Patients have access to a team of Care Coordinators and Promotoras (health promoters) who are able to connect them to resources outside of the clinic such as specialty care providers, labs and imaging, and resources for other needs such as housing and food. The emphasis on care coordination leads to better health outcomes and increased customer satisfaction.
Here’s an example of how coordinated care works: young girls, ages 14-18, who participated in the agency’s group sessions, benefitted from on-site doctor visits to learn about breast and reproductive health. Educating patients about health issues outside of the customary 15-minute appointment time has been paramount. Another way in which care coordination is helpful for families includes promoting nutrition education for children. This is a major area of prevention provided at the clinics. The doctors provide nutrition information in English and Spanish. Additionally, staff send families home with health snack samples high in fiber to assist in making good food choices for alternative snacks.
A specialized service in the Mi Salud clinics is Women’s Health. Women receive well women exams, cervical cancer screenings, breast exams, STD testing, contraceptive education and other important and needed services. Women receive a full array of personalized health services and women’s health education to meet their needs at every stage of life.
Another way in which Valle del Sol assists its patients is through the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, also known as Healthy Living. The program teaches skills to increase the knowledge and understanding of the patients’ own health and ways to better manage their healthcare. Subjects covered included: techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; nutrition; decision making; how to evaluate new treatments. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success built the patients’confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives.
Valle del Sol fully embraces the practice of offering primary care in the same environment where individuals, kids or adults, receive mental health services to assist them in receiving and identifying resources needed to achieve their best life outcomes. That’s our mission.
Written by Kurt R. Sheppard
Mr. Sheppard is chief executive officer of Valle del Sol, a healthcare nonprofit organization that combines primary care and mental health services for an integrated approach to treat the whole person—mind, body and spirit.