WBB's Thought Leadership

Loma Linda Healthcare System Announces Community Outreach Pilot Program for Mental Health

September 12

Summary: VA Loma Linda Healthcare System announced a pilot program to send staff and students from the psychiatry department of the University of California (UC) Riverside School of Medicine into the community to provide scheduled long-term care to Veterans.

Excerpt: “Approximately 311,000 Veterans reside in San Bernardino-Riverside County, chief of the Loma Linda VA’s mental health service, Dr. Marion E. Sherman, said, and only 75,000 are registered at the Loma Linda VA. Of those, just 20,000 receive some form of psychiatric services, she said. The Clay Hunt SuicLoma Linda Healthcare System Announces Community Outreach Pilot Program for Mental Healthide Prevention for Americans Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2015 and named after a decorated Marine from Houston who committed suicide in 2011 at age 28. The Clay Hunt Act aims to reduce the number of Veteran suicides and improve the mental health of Veterans transitioning out of the military.

To improve mental health services to Veterans, the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center wants to break down barriers that separate it from the community, said Sherman. August 26, 2016, as part of the outreach services for the Clay Hunt Act, staff and students from the psychiatry department at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine (UCRSM) will be at the Moreno Valley Senior Center, according to Dr. Christopher Fichtner, a clinical professor of UCRSM. A second UCRSM outreach program will be set up in Hemet. The outreach services will provide scheduled long-term care. In addition to reducing Veteran suicide rates, the program aims to mitigate destructive aspects of depression and post-traumatic stress that can lead to job loss, marriage issues, and substance abuse, Sherman said. If the pilot program here and elsewhere throughout the country is seen as successful, then the program will be rolled out nationwide, she said.”

Value: The Loma Linda pilot program is one of several effective initiatives and advances in community engagement, suicide awareness, and reducing stigma and other barriers to seeking help for mental health issues. Recent research has underlined that access to mental health care is the most critical factor in reducing suicide, which is one of the top ten causes of mortality in the U.S. While Veteran suicide rates are higher than the general population, Veterans who have utilized VA mental health services have a far lower rate, and provides a strong indication of the efficacy of VA  mental health services and suicide prevention methods. The pilot program further expands community outreach, and increases access to a greater number of people in need of help. Loma Linda VA is also opening a new Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) in October 2016, that will improve access and uses groundbreaking integration of primary care and mental health services. In the new ACC, primary care and specialty mental health services are colocated and extensively integrated in order to expand access to mental health services, improve practice efficiency, and reduce barriers to care.

Source: The Baltimore Sun


Jerry Stefanko

Jerry Stefanko



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