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Primary care health services now available at Columbia Community Mental Health

Columbia Community Mental Health is now far more than just a mental health service provider. Clients who visit the CCMH site in St. Helens can now also access primary care health services.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CCMH - Staff and partners at Columbia Community Mental Health in St. Helens celebrate a new collaboration between CCMH and Oregon Health & Science University. A primary care physician is now available at CCMH 20 hours a week. In an effort to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare and offer more of a one-stop shop for patients, CCMH now has a doctor, nurse and medical assistant on campus each week day.

Doctors are staffed through Oregon Health and Science University and see patients from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Julia Jackson, executive director of CCMH, says the move to bring doctors on site allows the independent nonprofit behavioral health center to better address the full spectrum of patient health.

"This morning a person came in, they're just a mess, they're suicidal, their family can't leave them alone, but they have to go to work ... they've got a chronic mental health condition and don't have primary meds," Jackson described. "Within 10 minutes, our staff screened [the patient's] questionnaire, and moved her to the top of the list. Our nurse immediately took over, got her in to see a primary care doctor, got slipped into the prescriber's schedule, and met with a crisis clinician so she could have a safety plan."Jackson

Jackson says the quick work and synergy allowed CCMH to immediately and fully respond to a patient in crisis.

"Everything that's going on in your life, that's what we try to address," she notes. "That's behavioral health."

CCMH patients must be registered as Oregon Health & Science University patients, which can be done through CCMH staff. Each patient must have an assigned case manager or care coordinator who can attend appointments with them. General care appointments are available

20 hours a week, from 1-4

p.m. Monday through Friday in the Fox Creek room of

the CCMH Creekside location on McNulty Way in St. Helens.

"We tailor our services to accommodate mental health symptoms and allow easier communication between primary care and behavioral health care teams," notes Jennifer Reffell, CCMH's medical director.

"The ultimate goal being to fully integrate into one system. We also have a focus in population health and care management. We have a RN care manager who will be tracking trends and outcomes in care registries so that we can better target and treat co-morbid chronic illness that are specific to the population we serve as well as create individualized care plans that can be supported by the behavioral health team."

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