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JEFFERSON CITY - Twenty-four clinics across the state were selected to receive a federal grant to fund programs that treat opioid addiction and mental health problems. Two of the clinics were here in Mid-Missouri.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo) announced the $4 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant via a press release on Sept. 15.
"In 2015, more than 1,000 Missourians died from a lethal drug overdoes, more than triple the number of overdoes deaths in 1999," Blunt said. "Addiction is treatable, but only around ten percent of those struggling with the disease get the help they need."
Blunt said the grant will allow community health centers to integrate mental and behavioral health services into primary care.
"This is an important step toward treating mental and behavioral health like all other health."
Community Health Center in Jefferson City was one of the clinics chosen. It will receive $175,000 in grant money.
Dr. Richard Lillard, Director of Behavioral Health Services, said the grant is made of two parts.
"One part is for direct services and ongoing services," Lillard said. "The other is more of a capital grant, allowing us to hire more people or expand the hours of the providers we currently have."
Lillard said the funding will be used to expand the clinic's telemedicine program to satellite clinics in Linn, California and Fulton.
With the telemedicine program, a provider can remote in to a different clinic to speak with a patient instead of sending the patient to a specialized clinic in another town.
Lillard said this eliminates the "scary referral to someone else."
"We are trying to keep it all under one roof," Lillard said. "That way the primary care doctor that you are most comfortable with is bringing in a colleague instead of sending you across town and it becomes a one-stop shop."
Jeff Davis, CEO of Community Health Center, said the program will allow CHC the unique ability to treat pain and substance abuse at the same time.
"If you are in a chronic pain program and you have a substance abuse program, you can face being kicked out of that pain program," Davis said. "With our program, we work with these people to overcome the substance abuse and the pain all in one program. We have behavioral health services that can help identify and treat both."
Davis said the most important thing the grant will allow CHC to do is reach more patients.
"We really want patients to have access to medical care and medical providers to get the help they need," Davis said. "We saw a need in our community for these programs and we reached out to HRSA and applied for this grant."
CHC is in the process of merging all programs, medical and dental, under one roof to continue to consolidate into one location for patients to get all medical services they need.