UI Health’s Mile Square Health Center receives funding for behavioral health

Mile Square - Wood Street exterior

Mile Square will offer services in behavioral health at its main location, 1220 S. Wood St. in Chicago.

The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Mile Square Health Center has received a $250,000 award funded through the Affordable Care Act to support behavioral health services at its main location in Chicago at 1220 S. Wood St.

Mile Square is one of 221 federally qualified health centers to receive the awards to expand behavioral health services for more than 450,000 people nationwide.

“There is a significant need for more mental health services in the city of Chicago, especially in communities like the ones we serve that have high rates of poverty, crime and unemployment,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community based practice at UI Health.

“This funding will help us diagnose and treat more patients with mental and behavioral health issues in a coordinated, efficient way, because we will be integrating medical and behavioral health care under one roof at our main location,” Winn said.

Mile Square will use the funding to hire full- and part-time psychiatric staff who will become part of a new adult-focused integrated behavioral health program at its main Near West Side location. Among the new hires will be a full-time substance abuse and addiction counselor and a full-time behavioral health navigator. The navigator will connect patients with resources and social services in the community.

A goal is to screen all adult patients for mental health issues such as depression and substance abuse during their primary care visits. Treatment for conditions such as mild depression or anxiety can be started by the primary care physician, while patients found to have more significant mental health needs will be referred to on-site specialists.

“The difficulty in traditional models is that patients who are found to have mental health issues are often referred to another location or health system to get treatment,” said Dr. Kameron Matthews, Mile Square’s chief medical officer. “Now that we’ll have psychiatric care providers on staff at Mile Square, patients who screen positive for mental health disorders can walk right across the hall to talk to someone who can provide the specialized treatment they need.”

Integrating medical care and psychiatric services will lead to improved outcomes for patients, Matthews says.

“When a patient’s doctors are all located in one place, and they are coordinating their care for that patient through regular communication, the patient is more likely to keep appointments, adhere to medications and get better. That’s the whole idea behind having a medical home, which is what we want Mile Square to be for our patients.”

Mile Square currently provides integrated mental health services at three community clinics managed by the UIC College of Nursing, and at the Mile Square Englewood location through a partnership with Metropolitan Family Services and funded by the Illinois Children’s Health Care Foundation. The Child & Family Wellness Program at Englewood is the only program providing integrated mental health services for children and adults in Englewood.

Mile Square has 12 locations with primary and specialty care clinics in the Near West Side, South Shore, Back of the Yards, Englewood and Cicero areas; four school-based health centers associated with the UIC School of Public Health; and three behavioral health-focused clinics managed by the UIC College of Nursing.

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