Phil Castle, The Business Times
A $300,000 gift will help support a new program to address mental health issues in Mesa County.
Intermountain Healthcare announced its gift to meet needs identified by the Mesa County Mental Health Collaborative. An intensive case management program expected to start this fall will help people with mental health issues and in turn reduce criminal activity and hospitalizations.
Intermountain Healthcare recently merged with SCL Health, which operated St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction.
Dr. Marc Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Intermountain Healthcare, said at a news conference it was fitting to earmark the gift to collaborative efforts to meet behavioral health needs, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s never been more acute than right now.”
Bryan Johnson, president of St. Mary’s, said the gift will help improve access to mental health services as well as a network addressing the issue.
Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland said the gift will be combined with a nearly $400,000 grant from the Office of Behavioral Health and additional money from a seizure fund from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Todd Rowell said he was grateful for the gift. “This $300,000 goes so far in supporting this endeavor.”
Johnson said representatives from health care, mental health, law enforcement, human services and other community agencies joined in February of 2021 to form the Mesa County Mental Health Collaborative.
The group since has worked to develop resources to address mental health issues, including case management, crisis response and telemedicine.
Johnson said patients with mental health issues show up in emergency rooms when that isn’t necessarily the best place to help them.
Rowell said about half the inmates in the Mesa County Jail experience mental health issues.
Many people with mental health issues don’t receive the treatment they need, he said, because of gaps in support services. “We need to fix that.”
An intensive case management program set to start in September will help people with severe and persistent mental health issues that affect their ability to meet basic needs and connect to support services. The program will ensure people have access to mental health care as well as promote coordination among providers and agencies.
A team of case managers, peer recovery coaches and a psychiatric nurse is expected to serve about 70 people through 2023, when permanent funding is expected to be in place.
Two nonprofit organizations in Mesa County will be contracted to run the program.
Harrison said the gift will help Intermountain and St. Mary’s Medical Center fulfill their missions to help people by not only providing health care services, but also promoting proactive measures. “What we really prefer to do is keep them healthy to begin with.”