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Health care on wheels receives funding

Health care on wheels receives funding

September 20th, 2018 by Joe Gamm in Local News

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Associated Press /News Tribune.

The Community Health Center of Central Missouri received $291,250 Wednesday as part of a federally funded grant program.

In all, Missouri received $31.5 million in grants provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help communities overcome the opioid epidemic.

Missouri's U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies announced the funding in a news release.

"The opioid epidemic costs our economy $500 billion a year and claims more lives annually than any other accidental cause of death, including car accidents," Blunt said in the release. "These grants will help more people get the opioid treatment and mental health services they need, especially in rural areas and under-served communities."

The grants included $7.8 million for 27 community health centers to allow them to expand access to prevention and treatment services, including mental and behavioral health care.

CHCCM focused on expanding existing care when its organizers applied for the grant, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Davis said.

The center is trying to tackle the opioid epidemic in a non-traditional way, he said.

"We decided to figure out ways to integrate substance abuse services with primary care," Davis said.

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The center has an existing substance abuse program. During the course of a regular visit — for diabetes or other conditions — clients will be able to take advantage of the substance abuse program.

With the grant, the center will be able to bring on new support staff and community support workers who will help direct patients to the services they need.

The largest part of the grant the center is to receive — $175,000 — is to be used to purchase a mobile unit, much like the center's mobile dental unit. However, this unit would be a "medical exam room on wheels," Davis said.

It will include an exam table, monitors for vital signs, telehealth equipment and more. With the use of telehealth equipment, the vehicle could allow patients to see health care providers without having to leave their homes.

"Transportation is a barrier. We're all about overcoming barriers," Davis said. "We're trying to find different ways to deliver care. The big thing we're trying to pitch is that it is a way to let people access services who may not have had them before."

The center was required to have estimates for the unit before it applied for the "one-time funding" for equipment, software or other items. The unit will take about nine or 10 months to build.

"Like with our mobile dental truck, everything in that unit is what we need to deliver care in the office," Davis said. "The patient has everything they need, and it is really just mobile."

The opioid crisis grants also provided $1.9 million for rural health opioid responses. The South Central Missouri Community Health Center in Rolla received $200,000 through that funding source.

The grants provided $18.3 million to fund state response to the crisis, $640,000 in grants to Missouri health systems for behavioral health and workforce education and $2.8 million for public health crisis response.

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