Kansas City,
09:00 AM

Children’s Mercy Kansas City Behavioral Health Clinicians Integrated in Community Primary Care Practices

To help tackle the youth mental health crisis, Children’s Mercy Kansas City announced it has launched a pilot program to embed behavioral health clinicians in primary care practices to help facilitate early intervention and improve access to treatment.

“Nearly 30 to 40% of primary care visits are for behavioral health reasons and community providers shared they were looking for solutions to better support patients,” said Carey Spain, MBA, LSCSW, ACM, Senior Director of Integrated Community Care, Children’s Mercy. “By placing our behavioral health clinicians in these practices to address mental health needs, it frees up pediatricians to focus on providing medical care.”

Three community-based primary care offices will participate in the pilot program - Children’s Mercy Pediatric Care Clinic on Broadway (Kansas City), Pediatric Partners (Overland Park) and Community Choice Pediatrics (Lee’s Summit).

Each practice will have its own dedicated behavioral health clinician, which are hired, managed, trained and supervised by Children’s Mercy.

If mental health concerns come up during appointments, immediate targeted interventions will be provided.

“The behavioral health clinician will treat mild to moderate issues in-clinic at that moment,” said Meredith Dreyer Gillette, PhD, Section Chief for Integrated Outpatient Psychology, Children’s Mercy. “For children with more extensive needs, we will refer patients to follow-up care at Children’s Mercy or other community mental health providers and help facilitate that transfer.”

The pilot, one of the 14 Illuminate projects that will be launched over the next five years, is fully funded by Dave and Mary Schulte. The couple made the generous gift to help expand local access to mental health care in the primary care setting so issues can be addressed before escalating to crisis levels.

“Mental health was a challenge for all of our children, as we blended a family of five teenagers, and we didn’t have the resources we needed to properly manage it,” said Mary Schulte. “It truly is going to take a fully coordinated system of care, and we are hopeful that Children’s Mercy will lead the way as a center of excellence for the rest of the country to follow.”

The pilot will be fully up and running in the beginning of 2024.